Eyes bright! How to maintain good eye health

1. Wear sunglasses

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays increases your risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and cancerous and non-cancerous growths on the eyes and eyelids. So always use sunglasses that block 100% of UV-A and UV-B Rays. This may delay the development of cataracts and protect your retinas and eyelids from damaging UV rays.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet

Keeping to a healthy diet helps you maintain a healthy weight. This in turn makes you less likely to develop obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, which is a significant cause of blindness in adults. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc and vitamins C and E may help to decrease your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. To maintain good eye health, regularly eat green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and tuna, citrus fruits such as oranges, and eggs, nuts, beans and other non-meat sources of protein.

3. Stop smoking

Smoking is linked to many adverse health effects. If you’re a smoker, you’re at increased risk for developing cataracts and are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which may result in vision loss.

4. Wear adequate eye protection

Use protective eyewear if you’re performing any hazardous tasks at work or at home. Such tasks include grinding, welding, gardening or any activity where the eye may be injured. Wear appropriate eye protection to avoid injuries during sports such as squash and hockey.

5. Get to know your family history

Know your family’s history of eye diseases because you may be at increased risk of developing the same diseases. For example, you have an increased risk of developing glaucoma if you have a family member that has been diagnosed with glaucoma. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible vision loss and blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent this.

6. Avoid eye strain by looking away from the computer screen

Prolonged periods of staring at a computer screen or close-up work can cause eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, and neck, back and shoulder pain. If your eyes are feeling tired:
• Look up from your work every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
• Position your computer so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor and there is minimal glare from windows and lights.
• Use a comfortable supportive chair.
• Confirm with your optometrist that the prescription for your glasses or contact lenses is correct.

7. Get a baseline eye exam

Adults, 40 years and older, with no symptoms or risk factors for eye disease, should get a baseline eye-disease screening examination. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will advise you on the necessary intervals for follow-up exams. Irrespective of age, if you have diabetes, symptoms of diabetes, or a family history of eye disease, you should consult an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis and, if necessary, advice on further management.

Dr JC Naran
Lenmed Health Daxina Private Hospital
Netcare Rosebank Hospital

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.