Checklist for healthy eyes
Post Date
23rd April 2014
Checklist for healthy eyes

Many of us don’t think much about eye care until the day we admit it’s time to get glasses. But the truth is there is a lot you can do on a daily basis to keep your eyes feeling comfortable and healthy and to protect against the development of more serious conditions down the track. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Wear shades in the sun Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is known to contribute to a number of eye diseases. Wearing sunglasses with good UV protection and shady hats can help protect against conditions including cataracts and pterygium. Pterygium are fleshy growths that develop on the surface of the eye, affecting around 1 in 100 Australians.

  • Give your eyes a rest Everyday eye strain caused by simple things like staring at paperwork or the computer screen for too long can give you sore, dry, irritated eyes and may even lead to neck and back pain. One of the most effective ways to prevent eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes away from the desk or the screen and focus on something about 20 feet away (that’s around 6 metres) for at least 20 seconds. And try to get in the habit of getting up and moving around at least once an hour.
  • Refresh your eyes When you’re staring intently at something, you tend to blink less, and that means your eyes start to dry out. The simple act of blinking will help moisten and refresh your eyes, so take a moment every now and then to blink more often. Leaning back and closing your eyes for a few seconds can help, too. Eye drops can also be used to help bring some moisture back to your eyes. Seek out preservative-free products as these can be used as often as you need them. Eye drops that contain preservatives shouldn’t be used more than four times a day.
  • Protect your eyes from flying objects Vision Australia reports that 60 per cent of eye injuries occur in the workplace and that many are preventable. When you’re at work, make sure you follow the rules about wearing safety glasses and lowering protective shields on machinery. And when you’re working at home, whether it’s mowing the lawn or a weekend warrior DIY project, be sure to protect your eyes with the most appropriate safety gear.
  • Don’t smoke Smoking has been linked to macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness in the western world. Over time, smoking clogs up the arteries which can affect the blood supply to the eyes, gradually resulting in loss of vision.
  • Eat well Diets high in lutein, omega-3, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium can help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration in some people, says the Macular Disease Foundation of Australia (MDF). As a rough guide, MDF suggests:

- Eating dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily
- Eating fish two to three times a week
- Choosing low-GI carbohydrates where possible
- Eating a handful of nuts a week (especially Brazil nuts which are high in selenium)
- Limiting your intake of fats and oils
- Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Keep moving When combined with a good diet, exercise can help prevent diabetes, which is a significant cause of vision loss in Australia. If you do develop diabetes, it’s possible you will have some damage to the small blood vessels at the back of your eye, resulting in vision impairment.  Diabetes Australia advises that keeping good control of blood glucose levels and blood pressure can greatly reduce the risk of eye-related complications for diabetes.
  • Have regular eye check-ups Even if you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses, it’s a good idea to drop into a registered eye care practitioner (optometrist or ophthalmologist) at least every second year. Your practitioner will be able to identify factors that may put you at particular risk of eye problems down the track. With the correct advice, you can put in place strategies now which may halt or slow the onset of a vision issue.
  • Wear your glasses or contacts when you need them The idea that your eyes can become dependent on prescription glasses or contacts is just a myth. Indeed, if you don’t wear your glasses when you need them, you could experience eye strain.