When it comes to maintaining good health, your peepers are often overlooked… Don’t turn a blind eye! Look after them with these simple tips
GET CHECKED OUT
A comprehensive yearly eye exam is essential, not just to pick up vision problems, but because common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration have no warning signs.
FIX IT Children should have their first eye exam between six and 12 months, and their most important exam is before Grade R – they can’t learn if they can’t see, says Ansunel de la Rey, optometry lecturer at University of Johannesburg
We’ve all heard carrots are good for our eyes, but more important is a diet rich in dark leafy greens such a spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts, and dark berries.
FIX IT Studies at the US National Eye Institute also show that omega-3 fatty acids can help eye health – so stock up on fish such as sardines, salmon and tuna, as well as flaxseed and walnuts.
Sunglasses are far more than just a fashion accessory – did you know they also protect your peepers from the sun’s harmful rays, which can lead to premature ageing, cataracts, skin cancer around the eyes and pterygium (growths on the whites of your eyes), says Dr Nina Kriel, optometrist and former president of the SA Optometric Association. Even morning or late afternoon sun can cause damage.
FIX IT Make sure that your sunglasses cut out 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, and wear a hat.
REST YOUR EYES
If you sit in front of a computer all day and spend most of your evenings staring at your phone or watching TV, you’ll tend to blink less, Dr Kriel says. Why is that bad? Blinking keeps your eyes moist and free of irritants, so your eyes will become very dry and tired if you don’t do it.
FIX IT Every 30 minutes, look away from that screen for around 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.
WASH YOUR HANDS
Especially before touching your eyes or putting in contact lenses. If you neglect to do this, you risk infection. Also be sure to replace your lens
solution case every month.
FIX IT Going swimming? Remove your contacts, as water is high in irritating chemicals and bacteria that trigger infection.
WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR
If your job requires protective eyewear, wear it. If you or your family frequently engage in hobbies or sports that risk you getting either splinters, sparks or balls in your eyes (ummm, ouch!), make sure you invest in some protective glasses or purchase a visor.
FIX IT Use a saline solution to rinse out any foreign bodies from your eyes, says Dr Kriel.
It’s as harmful for your eyes as it is for the rest of you, and is linked to an increased risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and optic nerve damage. To put it bluntly, you risk eventually going blind.
FIX IT Simple: no smoking!
TIP! Rather than using eye drops to whiten and brighten eyes, try these simple tricks:
• Use blue mascara The colour makes the whites of your eyes appear whiter, making them really pop (just remember to replace mascara every six months to prevent infection).
• Dab white eyeshadow in the inner corners of your eyes to make them appear bigger.
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