Nearly 300,000 Australians are blind or vision impaired and, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this figure is expected to rise to 421,600 by 2021 as more baby boomers reach retirement age. But there are steps you can take to look after your eyes!
“Protecting your eye health is essential and many people are unaware of how best to do this,” says Ravinder Lilly, nutritionist from USANA Health Sciences. “There are some simple ways to care for your eyes and preserve healthy vision on a daily basis that people of all ages should adhere to.”
1 Shield with shades
Regardless of the time of year, if it’s sunny, protect your eyes from intense sunlight. Choose good-quality glasses that filter blue light and have 100 per cent UV protection.
2 Screen time and downtime
Spending long hours working – or playing – in front of a computer screen can cause eye strain. Make sure to take regular breaks. A simple technique to reduce eye strain is to focus on an object in the distance.
3 Nourish yourself
Healthy eating is good for your body and mind, and vital for your eyesight too. Leafy vegetables such as kale, cabbage and spinach, as well as yellow and orange capsicums, mango, blueberries and citrus fruits provide two key antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for healthy eyesight. Oily fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, fresh tuna and sardines, can also help to support healthy vision.
4 Don’t smoke
Smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. The noxious mix of chemicals in cigarette smoke robs the blood vessels of oxygen. Smoking also reduces your levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which absorb potentially damaging blue light and soak up free radicals.
5 Nutritional supplements
Supplements are not an alternative to a healthy diet but they can help if you’re deficient in a certain nutrient. Talk with a health professional about what supplements, such as lutein supplements, might be useful.
6 See an optician
You cannot self-diagnose eye problems such as AMD, so regular check-ups with an optician are essential to ensure your eye health.