Tips to Save Your Vision
More than 20 million Americans suffer from severe vision loss. While not all eye diseases can be prevented, there are simple steps that everyone can take to help their eyes remain healthy now and reduce their chances of vision loss in the future.
Here are tips from the Academy to safeguard your vision:
UV blocking sunglasses delay the development of cataracts, since direct sunlight hastens their formation. Sunglasses prevent retinal damage; they also protect the delicate eyelid skin to prevent both wrinkles and skin cancer around the eye, and both cancerous and non-cancerous growths on the eye. Check for 100 percent UV protection: Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.
Tobacco smoking is directly linked to many adverse health effects, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies show that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked. Smokers are also at increased risk for developing cataracts.
Vitamin deficiency can impair retinal function. The belief that eating carrots improves vision has some truth, but a variety of vegetables, especially leafy green ones, should be an important part of your diet. Researchers have found people on diets with higher levels of vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are less likely to develop early and advanced AMD.
Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam
You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages. During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate or widen the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye, the same way an open door lets more light into a dark room. This enables your eye care professional to get a good look at the back of the eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease. Your eye care professional is the only one who can determine if your eyes are healthy and if your vision is at its best.
Know your family’s eye health history
Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition, since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk of developing an eye disease or condition.
Eye Tests and Exams
Everyone needs to have their eyesight tested to check for vision and eye problems. Children usually have vision screening in school or at their health care provider’s office during a checkup. Adults may also get vision screenings during their checkups. But many adults need more than a vision screening. They need a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Getting comprehensive dilated eye exams is especially important because some eye diseases may not have warning signs. The exams are the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages, when they are easier to treat.
The exam includes several tests:
- A visual field test to measure your side (peripheral) vision. A loss of peripheral vision may be a sign of glaucoma.
- A visual acuity test, where you read an eye chart about 20 feet away, to check on how well you see at various distances
- Tonometry, which measures your eye’s interior pressure. It helps to detect glaucoma.
- Dilation, which involves getting eye drops that dilate (widen) your pupils. This allows more light to enter the eye. Your eye care provider examines your eyes using a special magnifying lens. This provides a clear view of important tissues at the back of your eye, including the retina, macula, and optic nerve.
Myopia – a widespread problem
Take a look at your child’s class photo. How many of the kids are wearing glasses? We’ll bet it’s up to half the class. That’s because Singapore has one of the world’s highest rates of myopia. When you cultivate good eye care habits in your child, you could help delay the onset and progression of myopia.
Here are some simple eye care tips for your child.
Reduce time spent on near work
- Reduce the time your children are allowed to spend playing games on hand-held electronic devices, handphone games and other computer-related activities such as blogging and internet chats.
- When indoors, monitor the time your child spends on continuous reading, writing and other near work. Encourage your child to take a break after 30-40 minutes of near work such as reading or writing. Your child should look at distant objects for 3 to 5 minutes. They could look out of the window into the distance or at nearby greenery, or go outdoors for a while.
Increase time spent on outdoor activities every day
- There is a growing body of evidence that outdoor activities may delay the onset or progression of myopia in your child. So get your child to spend time playing ball games, walking in the park or go on family picnics at the beach, etc.
- Outdoor activities should not include reading or playing hand-held games outdoors. Instead, encourage your child to engage in fun activities that involve body movements to increase physical fitness. Better yet, join in the fun!
Encourage other healthy eye care habits
- Ensure there is adequate lighting in the room.
- When reading, make sure they hold the book about 30 cm away from their eyes.
- Choose books with a large print.
- Refrain from reading in bed and in moving vehicles.
- Make sure when using the computer, the monitor screen is about 50 cm away from their eyes.
- Place the computer screen at a distance from the eyes.
- Adjust its screen to reduce glare from the reflection of other light sources.
- Sit at a distance from the TV that is appropriate to its size. The bigger the TV, the further away your child should sit.
- Sit upright in a comfortable chair.
Take your child for eye check-ups yearly
Even if your child has been screened for myopia in school, it’s a good idea to take them for a check-up if they are squinting, having headaches or blurred vision.
Ensure a healthy lifestyle
- Encourage them to eat a balanced diet.
- Try to make sure your child has at least eight hours of sleep each night to rest the eyes.
- Instead of just playing computer games, get them to participate in outdoor games as well.
Factors That Can Impact Your Vision in Winter
Before we get to the eye care tips for winter specifically, let’s first get introduced with the factors that can impact your vision through winter.
Outdoor Dry Air
With outdoor temperature dropping significantly in winter, the air also cools down, unable to hold as much of humidity as held otherwise through the rest of the year. During winter, cold winds blowing outside can turn out to be quite dehydrating for our skin as well as eyes, both of which need adequate moisture to remain healthy. For our eyes, exposure to cold dry air means losing essential moisture content rapidly (due to quickened process of evaporation) through the eye surface (which is comprised of 99% water), getting irritation due to excessive dehydration.
Excessive UV exposure via direct sunlight is already known to increase the risk of cataracts as well as skin cancer. That’s why experts recommend resorting to sunscreens and sunglasses during prolonged outdoor activities. The bad news is that you can get excessive UV exposure due to reflection from snowy surfaces (though not getting the sunburns necessarily!) and it is equally bad for your skin and eye health.
Warm Indoor Air
Cold dry air is not the only nuisance for your eyes in winter, warm dry air indoors can also be equally (if not even more) dehydrating and damaging for your skin as well as eyes. In fact, the re-circulated indoor air is also laden even more with other dehydrating elements like ambient skin flora and bacteria.