HOW TO BE PROACTIVE ABOUT YOUR EYE HEALTH.
1. Get regular eye examinations
A survey by the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that 85 percent of people valued their sight as their most prized sense, but less than half of that group had an eye exam in the past two or three years.
Adults, especially those over 40, should have yearly eye exams, particularly to prevent age related ocular conditions including macular degeneration (the part of the retina that processes light deteriorates), cataracts (the lens of your eye becomes cloudy) and glaucoma (pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve). Children should have their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12months.
Be sure your optometrist or ophthalmologist knows about what’s medically relevant. “The most important contribution a patient can give me is a thorough and accurate health history,” Doctors say. Patients often don’t realize that there’s a connection between illnesses and eye issues. Hypertension, blood pressure and diabetes can all be detected by looking in the back of the eye; so alert your doctor to your risk factors so that he can take the right course of action during the exam. Also mention your hobbies too; your doctor, knowing what sports or leisure activities you like to do in your free time makes it easier for him or her to make appropriate recommendations for correcting vision and keeping your eyes healthy.
2. Control the air quality in your home/office
Consider using a portable humidifier to keep the air moist, which will help prevent eye irritation caused by dryness. Humidity is quite high in the southern part of Nigeria, hence we sweat a lot there, but up north, the humidity is quite low, hence sweating is minimal. Countries that have winter climate conditions can also experience dry air (low humidity).
If you have a pet, keeping their hair off areas where you sit or lie down, like couches and chairs, is important as well. Along with shedding dander, pets can also track in other irritants from outside that can cause inflammation in the eyes.
Also, do not expose contact lenses to pool or hot tub water, which is full of irritating chemicals and bacteria that can cause infections.
3. Always have Saline eye Solution at home
When pouring chemicals or using power tools, you should always wear safety goggles. But that level of protection isn’t necessary around the house, so if you accidentally splash soap or cleansers in your eye, the first thing you should do is rinse thoroughly with saline for 10 to 15 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but rinsing is the best to clear the eyes. If you still experience irritation after that, visit your eye doctor.
4. Replace your contact lens case every three months
If you use contact lens, always store the case in a dry clean place to avoid bacterial contamination. After you put in your contacts, be sure that the case is empty of all solution: Dump it out, then rinse and dry the case before you store your lens in it again. Also because of the possible of eye infections, replace the case every three months, they are cheap.
5. Drink a cup or two of coffee/tea daily
Coffee and tea contain caffeine which is said to improve the moisture of the eyes thus preventing dry eyes. One or two cups of tea or coffee a day can help. If you drink neither, no problem
6. Give your eyes a break from the computer
Bright lights, sometimes glaring and rapid moving (flickering) images strain the eyes and after prolonged use, the vision of a user can become blurred due partly to dryness of the eyes. This is called Computer Vision Syndrome.
This can be addressed or prevented by blinking regularly, disengaging from the computer at intervals to rest the eyes, adjusting the brightness of the computer screen and adjusting the contrast.
When we concentrate, whether it’s on reading or on the computer, we blink about half as many times as we do when we aren’t concentrating. Blinking is how we bring fresh tears to the corneal surface, which helps your eyes stay moist and free from irritants. So the more we concentrate the drier our eyes become.
7. Eat carrots/ leafy greens/fruits/fish
Eating carrots to improve our vision is said to be an old wives’ tale. But don’t discount the power of other fruits and veggies. Dark leafy greens like spinach, ugu, bitter leaf are rich in lutein, a type of carotenoid that protects against macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60.
Foods rich in omega-3s, like walnuts and oily fish, have been found to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels of the eye.
8. Protect your eyes from direct sunlight
A lifetime of UV light exposure can contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration, so always wear sunglasses with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection when in the sun. And since, by the time you hit age 18, you’ve already received 80 percent of the UV light that you’ll be exposed to in a lifetime, it’s crucial to protect your children’s eyes as well.
9. Be prepared for air travels
Airplane air quality tends to be drier and more irritating to the eye, especially if you’re a contact lens wearer,” says an ophthalmologist.
Using rewetting or lubricating drops in your eyes before boarding (Keep the bottle handy during the flight too) is a smart way to prevent irritation caused by dry eyes. Bring along an extra pair of lenses and your glasses, just in case.