250 years ago, John Newton sang Twas blind, but now I see
50 years ago, Johnny Nash sang I can see clearly now, the rain has gone
I have profound hope that another ‘John N’ is writing a song about eyesight right now that would finish off this beautiful pattern. You see, there is something so important about our vision. Horror movies have tapped into the psychological distress we feel when we cannot see what is in the shadows. Conversely, the feeling of relief we feel when a light switch illuminates the darkest crevices of a room? Priceless. Our vision matters.
But many of us don’t treat it as though it matters. At least… not until it starts to falter.
When my patients have recognised that their eyesight is dimming and it is only getting worse, they start to understand just how important it is. At this stage, it is often too late to make any meaningful changes. That’s why I have decided to outline a few things which can be done now to preserve your vision.
See the warning signs today. See the world tomorrow!
Watch your diet!
This might sound strange because to the layperson, there is no direct link between food and vision. However, studies have shown that a diet rich in fruit n’ veg can promote eye health. The antioxidants found in dark leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, and spinach (all rich in lutein and zeaxanthin) have all been effective in reducing the risk of cataracts.
Aside from the antioxidants, a healthy diet can even go some lengths to reverse vision loss. Those who are physically active were 73% less likely to develop glaucoma.
So whilst a kale smoothie may not make your eyes light up, it also kinda does? And for the fruit lovers among us, rejoice! Grapes have also been proven to protect the retina against the damaging effect of oxidative stress. Happily, this extends to a glass of wine as well. In moderation of course… We don’t have the term ‘blind drunk’ by accident.
Shades for days
There is more to a good pair of sunnies than how well they frame your face. 75% of people are concerned about sun damage to their eyes, but only 31% of people do anything about it. It is time to join that minority. The UV radiation in sunlight damages the proteins in your eyes, which causes cataracts or glaucoma. The endgame? Blindness.
In Australia, we face a greater risk than in other parts of the world and so it is extra important that we don the shades, regardless of the weather. Look for lenses which are big, and those which filter out 99-100% of UV rays. Those little John Lennon sunnies may look cool, but they aren’t doing as much as you might imagine (awful pun intended).
Give your eyes some down time.
Some of us spend all of our work day (and perhaps some of our leisure time) glued to a screen. Current modelling suggests that half the world will be short sighted by 2050 if we stay the course. Resting your eyes involves more than just closing them, although this is incredibly helpful. Experts suggest the 20-20-20 principle.
Every 20 minutes that you have spent staring at a screen, look at something else about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It gives your eyes the precious time to focus on something other than blue light. It makes them work to focus on the near distance and, like a muscle, this keeps them alert and strong. Think of your cubicle as a gym for your eyes!
Rest, and test!
Many people mistakenly believe their vision to be healthy. Anything that they can’t read must be unreasonably small or distant and everything is fine. In reality, unless a trained professional examines your eyes, you are basing that assertion off your own experience.
Regular testing will determine whether or not certain glasses will preserve your vision, as well as recognising eye spot conditions which can be treated if they are spotted early. If you are 60 or older, regular eye tests are a powerful way of preserving your vision.
I’ll be honest; this could go into almost every article I write. There is no part of your health which is not affected. Smokers are three times more likely to develop cataracts, and four times more likely to develop macular degeneration. My grandfather spent the final few years of his life without sight after a lifetime of smoking.
He was one of many of his generation who developed glaucoma. Had he quit earlier, his rate of regression would have been far slower. Getting off the cigarettes will have so many positive impacts on your life and well-being. If you need help, see a health professional. It is possible to step into a new stage of life without them.
Treat any eye-related malady as serious.
Many younger patients come in to see me with what their parent casually describes as ‘eye gunk’. Whilst I appreciate their lack of panic, ‘eye gunk’ is often a form of conjunctivitis, the major clinical manifestation of active trachoma. If left untreated this can cause blindness and other complications.
It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, it can weak the vision in the affected eye. I will always strongly recommend chlorsig eye drops or zaditen eye drops in this instance. The antibiotics found in chlorsig eye drops and zaditen eye drops help ease the redness and the discharge around the eyeball. Twas almost blind, but thanks to chlorsig eye drops and zaditen eye drops, now I see!
Ultimately, your vision is a long term investment. If you fail to maintain good eye hygiene in your youth, you may be sowing years of dependence and difficulty for your old age. See our range of eye drops and creams to help make sure that you will see the future in all of its beauty.
See the warning signs today. See the world tomorrow!