Our eyesight is a precious asset and looking after it should be a natural part of our daily health care routine.
A healthy diet and regular exercise have benefits for our eyes as well as for the rest of our body by improving our intake of oxygen, our circulation, and helping to maintain a healthy body weight to lower our risk of diabetes.
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Sleep is another important factor. While we sleep our eyes are being naturally lubricated, helping to cleanse out irritants. Because we don’t blink while we sleep, this can build up. You know those little gunky bits you wake up with in the corner of your eyes? That’s the results of this process.
When indoors we should ensure there’s enough light to comfortably see by. As we get older, the amount of light we need increases. We should also try to limit the amount of time spent on activities that require intensive concentration of our eyes, like reading, screen-time, sewing and crafts. It’s often difficult to remember to rest our eyes while working. If this is a problem for you, try setting an alarm for every hour or so as a reminder.
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When outdoors, we should remember to wear good quality sunglasses. Sun damage can cause cataracts. It’s also really important to keep the lenses of both our sunglasses and regular glasses clean and free from scratches.
While over-the-counter magnified reading glasses are a great short-term solution, if worn long-term they can cause more harm than good. Not all of us have the same vision strength in both eyes, and proper optical glasses are custom-made specifically to correct this problem.
Smoking is another habit that has a negative effect on our eye health. It can contribute to macular degeneration and cataracts by restricting the blood flow to the macula.
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There are a few simple eye exercises we can do that only take a few minutes here and there. We can start by rapidly blinking for a few seconds. This helps to distribute the natural lubrication and to relax the muscles. Then choose an object close to you and one about fifteen or twenty metres away. Concentrate first on the close object and then the far one. Continue alternating between the two. Another easy one is to look up for a count of five, then down, then each side. Do this several times.
For tired or strained eyes, lie on your back with a cool cloth over your eyes.
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Finally, if you notice any of the following, make an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist as soon as possible:
Excessive redness, puffiness or pain
Cloudy or blurred vision
A feeling of pressure behind the eyes
Tiny spots or blobs that seem to float in the eye
Particular sensitivity to light
Eye testing is free on Medicare and takes just a few moments. As well as testing your eyesight, you can now have your macula checked as well. It’s worth it for the peace of mind.