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Tips for looking after your eyes

No matter what your level of vision, it is important to look after your eye health and protect whatever sight you do have. There are a number of factors that can exacerbate or contribute to certain conditions, so it is important to be aware of them. The list below explains what you can do to take care of your eyes.

Take regular screen breaks
If using a computer, electronic device or watching television, take frequent breaks from the screen, preferably at least once an hour. Resting your eyes can avoid headaches, eyestrain, soreness and double vision.

Wear sunglasses
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun’s rays can cause damage to your eyes. To reduce risks always wear sunglasses when in the sun. All sunglasses sold in Australia must be tested and labeled according to the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacles.

Wear safety glasses
Cleaning, DIY or gardening can be hazardous to your eyes as chemicals, garden debris, or nails and splinters can all cause injury. Consider wearing safety glasses.

Look for a lens category of at least 2 or preferably 3 to reduce glare and provide good UV protection. Close-fitting wraparound glasses will block more light and offer better protection. Be aware that UV rays can still cause damage when it is cloudy and overcast.

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Don’t smoke
We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but did you know that smoking can damage your eyes? Your eye is a complex organ that needs oxygen to survive; smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, so less oxygen reaches the eye. This causes oxidative stress and damages the retina and also causes cell death to retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. Smoking is a risk factor for developing age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Stopping smoking can stop or reverse damage to the eyes, depending on the severity of the condition. Passive or second-hand smoke also causes damage to the eye and should be avoided.

Eat healthy foods
Some foods can help protect against certain eye conditions due to the specific nutrients they contain. We are still learning about how diet affects inherited retinal diseases. By having a healthy and varied diet, including eating significant quantities of fruit and vegetables, you can help to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

Clean your contact lenses
Only use commercially prepared solutions for contact lens care and never use tap or distilled water, or saliva. If you don’t stick to a strict cleansing routine your eyes can become infected and you risk corneal disease or even the loss of an eye. You should never borrow or use anybody else’s contacts and never sleep in your contact lenses unless advised you can do so by the optometrist.

Take care with cosmetics
Be careful when using eye make-up remover or any other cream around your eyes. Close your eyes or turn away when spraying cosmetics like perfume or hairspray.

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Have regular eye tests
It is recommended that people have an eye test every two years. It is important to maximise any useful vision you have by wearing the best possible prescription. Your optometrist can help you with this. A regular eye test can help to identify any early indications of eye conditions. An eye test may also identify other problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure for which the optometrist can refer you back to a GP.

Know your family eye history
Many retinal diseases are hereditary so where possible, find out about your family history.

Know First Aid
Never guess about the severity of an eye injury. Seek medical attention as soon as possible following an injury, particularly if you have pain in the eye, blurred or loss of vision.