Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Don’t ignore your eyes

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The eyes you were born with are the ones you keep. It is often said that the eyes are the windows to your soul, but how much do you know about them?

Every so often, people head to the doctor's office to have a routine physical exam, but seldom, if any at all, visit an eye-care professional. In Jamaica, an increasing trend is being observed in cases being handled with treatable eye diseases like glaucoma, refractive error, cataract and astigmatism, all of which are easily detectable with screening.

A routine eye exam can play an important role when it comes to detecting eye problems before you have symptoms. With a basic eye test, your eye-care professional or ophthalmologist can detect early signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis or glaucoma. In fact, almost quarter of the time, your eye-care professional can spot signs of high cholesterol before your general doctor.

It is natural to forget about the eye doctor when your eyes aren't giving you any trouble, but taking care of your eyes means benefit to your overall health as well.

 

LAZY EYE

 

Of course, adults tend to have more vision problems than preschoolers, but this does not mean children should not be screened for eye problems as well. A common condition that affects them is called amblyopia, or lazy eye which prevents normal development of one or both eyes. Eyeland Eyewear highly recommends vision screening for all children ages three to five years.

Also, many persons may not know this, but it's possible for your eyes to get sunburned. That's why it's so important to wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Sunburn to the eye isn't the same as sunburn to the skin, where the effects are relatively immediate with pain, redness and peeling. When sunburn to the eye occurs, it's over a long, gradual period; the prolonged sun exposure will eventually lead to thickened tissue within the eye.

Protecting your eyes should become a lifestyle and can be easily done by following these simple tips:

- Get a basic eye test done at least every year.

- Eat right to protect your sight - in particular, eat plenty of dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, and fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E may help fend off age-related vision problems.

- Stop smoking: By quitting smoking, you decrease your chance of getting cataracts, optic nerve damage and macular degeneration.

- Wearing sunglasses is the best way to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. You may get prescription sunglasses that block 99 per cent - 100 per cent of UVA and UVB radiation.

- Use safety glasses or eyewear if you work with airborne or hazardous materials at home or at work. Good habit to pick up when playing sports as well.

- Make time in your day to look away from your computer screen. Continuous screen time can cause eyestrain, blurry vision, headaches and dry eyes. Investing in digital computer lenses will make your vision crisper and provide your eyes with more focal points.

- Clean your hands and your contact lenses properly to avoid the risk of infection.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com