World Sight Day is observed on the second Thursday of October every year. This global event is meant to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment. It was originally initiated by the SightFirstCampaign of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000.
Globally, at least one billion people have near or distance vision impairment that could be prevented or has yet to be addressed. Vision impairment affects people of all ages, with the majority being over age 50. Vision impairment and blindness can have major and long-lasting effects on all aspects of life including daily personal activities, interacting with the community, school and work opportunities and the ability to access public services.
Eye problems can be easily prevented if you practice essential eye care habits every day. Surprisingly, they are practical and easy to accomplish yet they tend to be the most neglected.
To maintain your eye health and to keep your vision sharp, below are 10 things that should be part of your daily routine.
Avoid rubbing your eyes
The hands are exposed to a lot of dirt, dust and bacteria, and all of these can be easily transferred to your eyes each time you touch or rub them. So avoid putting your hands to your eyes to prevent infection and irritation. If the habit is ingrained, make an effort to get rid of it as soon as possible.
According to an optometrist, Whitney Seltman, before touching your eyes, you should wash your hands with mild soap and dry them with a lint-free towel. She said, “This is because germs and bacteria inserted in your eyes by your fingers can cause eye infections like pink eye and can even introduce cold and flu viruses into your body.”
Sufficient fluid intake is essential to your body’s overall well being, including the eyes. If you’re hydrated enough, you prevent your eyes from getting dry and irritated. Since your eyes are surrounded by fluid that protects your eyes by washing away debris and dust every time you blink, staying well hydrated is important to maintain a healthy balance of fluid in the eye.
According to an ophthalmologist, Vicente Diaz, dry eyes can lead to a rough ocular surface, which interrupts incoming light and decreases visual clarity. He added, “The ocular surface requires lubrication to function properly and be comfortable. If your eyes are dry, it can affect both visual function and comfort.’’
Among the many ways that smoking harms your health, it also damages the blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to your optic nerve. Smoking also increases your chance of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration among many other medical problems.
Cigarette smoke is made up of toxins that not only damage your health and irritate your eyes, but have been shown to cause cerebral lesions in the area of the brain that processes vision. Smoking also causes your retinal blood vessels to constrict, which can increase your blood pressure and your risk of permanent vision loss. An ophthalmologist, Lindsay Harris, noted that if one tried to quit the before only to start again, one should keep at it. Harris stated, “The more times you try to quit, the more likely you are to succeed.’’
Eat a balanced diet
It is important to eat a variety of foods for eye health. Eating assorted fruits and vegetables, especially deep yellow and green leafy vegetables, provide vitamins essential for good eye health. Fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon and halibut supply key eye vitamins and nutrients. Beta-carotene, Lutein, Omega-3, Lycopene, and Vitamins C, A, and E are essential for maintaining your eye health. Make sure that your diet is infused with different foods that are rich in these nutrients.
Harris said, “Good eye health starts with the food on your plate. To get them, fill your plate with green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards, salmon, tuna, and other oily fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources, oranges and other citrus fruits or juices. A well-balanced food also helps you stay at a healthy weight. That lowers your odds of obesity and related diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.”
Observe the 20-20-20 rule
Most folks spend hours using digital devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops every day. These devices emit high energy blue light waves that can damage your eyes over time.
If you want to keep your eyes in great shape, you should adhere to the 20-20-20 rule, which states that: Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer monitor and fix your gaze on an object that’s 20 feet away from you, blink 20 successive times to prevent eye dryness, every 20 minutes, get out of your seat and take 20 steps.
Seltman said, “This is not just good for your vision, but also promotes proper posture and blood circulation throughout the body. It keeps you from being sedentary for too long as well. Keeping your computer screen 20 to 24 inches away from your eyes and adjusting lighting to minimise glare will help. Because we blink less when looking at screens, it’s important to make a conscious effort to blink often.”
Get enough sleep
Every year, humans find out how much benefit sleep provides for the general physical and mental wellness of individuals. Just like the rest of your body, your eyes need to recharge too, and this happens while you sleep. So make sure that you get sufficient shut-eye each day to keep your eyes revitalised and healthy.
Protect your eyes from the sun
No matter what you do, make sure that your eyes are protected. If you’re going swimming, wear goggles to avoid exposing your eyes to chlorine. Meanwhile, if you’re gardening or attending to a DIY project at home, put on safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust particles, bacteria, and injuries.
Exposure to sunlight can damage your eyesight and increase your risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, inflammation of the cornea (keratitis) or corneal growths, such as pterygia and pinguecula. So aside from making a fashion statement and adding class to your overall look, put on sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Seltman said, “The right pair of shades will help protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Too much ultraviolet exposure boosts your chances of cataracts and macular degeneration. Choose a pair that blocks 99 per cent to 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses help protect your eyes from the side. Polarised lenses reduce glare while you drive, but don’t necessarily offer added protection. Putting on caps, visors and hats are also advisable.”
Pamper your eyes
As you age, the oil glands in your eyelids get clogged and don’t secrete enough oil into your tear supply. This leads to dry eyes.
Placing warm compresses on your lids helps to liquefy the oil so that it flows freely into your tear supply and helps to keep your eyes lubricated.
Harris said, “Making a warm compress is simple: just wet a clean washcloth with warm water and press it against your eyelids for a minute. Easy, yes? Your eyes will thank you.”
Get a regular eye exam
The American Optometric Association recommended that all adults between the ages of 18 and 60 visit their eye doctor to get a comprehensive eye exam at least every other year. This is important because some eye diseases may not have warning signs. But with regular eye exams, your eye care professional can detect these conditions in their early stages when they’re easier to treat before there is any vision loss. Many eye conditions can be controlled or even reversed if they’re detected early.
Seltman stated, “Taking good care of your eyes isn’t all that complicated and many of these habits are important for your overall health. A lifetime of good vision is worth an ounce of prevention.”
Use the right kind of makeup
This is particularly important for females. If you wear makeup, choose the brands that work well for you. Steer clear of eye shadows, mascara, and eyeliners that cause an allergic reaction to your eyes as this poses a serious threat to your eye health.
Harris advised, “Don’t forget to use a makeup remover before going to bed to avoid bacterial build-up from residual make-up left in the eye area. Likewise, clean your make-up brushes regularly, especially those that you use for eye make-up application.”
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