Eye Health 2019

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E Y E H E A L T H 8 Our hospital-quality OCT scan can help detect treatable eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration sooner than traditional imaging methods. It can also help detect glaucoma up to four years in advance. This means conditions can be managed before they get worse. OCT is currently available in more than half of our stores, with more rolling out each month. We can help detect eye conditions up to four years before you can ©2019 Search 'Specsavers OCT' UV exposure Screen time Poor diet Alternative and natural treatments Old make-up Harmful tools, chemicals and lights Chronic eye-rubbing Awareness around the importance of pro- tecting the skin against ultraviolet (UV) rays has grown. However, the effect of these harmful rays is less understood. Studies have found UV damage can occur from as early as nine years old, with even annual summer or snow holidays height- ening damage. "We don't have a good pub- lic understanding of sunglasses for eye protection rather than fashion," says Dr Sharma. He recommends the use of wrap- around sunglasses to completely limit the amount of UV filtering through to the eyes. Extended screen time is drastically increasing dry eyes and is thought to be causing subsequent cases of myopia in both children and adults. Evidence now suggests that safe UV-free expo- sure to bright natural light and exercis- ing long-range sight regularly will help counteract the increase in myopia. "A really basic tip is to follow the 20 20 20 rule: for every 20 minutes spent look- ing at a screen, spend 20 seconds look- ing at something 20 feet away," says optometrist and clinical advisor Daniel Hardiman-McCartney from The College of Optometrists. A lacklustre diet might not be as strongly linked to deteriorating eye health as it is to conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis. However, evidence sug- gests a balanced diet helps abate the onset of macular degeneration, which can affect people aged over 65 in particu- "Crazy ideas are becoming harder and harder to counter," says Dr Sharma, referring to the rise of alternative and natural treatments. "This misinforma- tion is becoming increasingly preva- lent and there are lots of eye diseases that are chronic and low-grade irrita- Bacteria can build up in old or out-of- date make-up, such as foundation, mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow, risking eye infections. The cosmet- ics industry recommends make-up should be replaced every three months and that application should be with brushes which are thoroughly washed regularly in hot soapy water. A cavalier approach to the use of safety equipment and protective eyewear can inflate the number of otherwise avoidable eye injuries and acute eye damage. The culprits for such damage can range from everyday exposure to As school and workplace dependence on screens increases or allergens become evident, the reflex to rub your eyes becomes more pronounced. "It may seem like a harmful reflex, but frequent eye rubbing is a sign that things might not be right," says Dr Hardiman-McCa - rtney. This seemingly benign, but intrin- sically habitual, behaviour can affect the eye pressure and damage the cornea. The deadly consequences of smok- ing on our overa ll hea lth are widely understood. Yet there's concern among the optometrist and oph- tha lmologist community that pub- lic understanding of the impacts of smoking on eye hea lth remain largely unpublicised. "A lot of peo- ple aren't aware of how bad smoking is for the long-term maintenance of vision," says Dr Sharma. Blindness due to a retina l ar ter y occlusion and retina l disease are just two severe consequences smoking can have on the eyes. lar. "Poor diet may also lead to high blood pressure, which we know is bad for the eyes and can lead to sight loss," says Dr Hardiman-McCartney. When consumed over extended periods, green leafy vege- tables, nuts and oily fish, including tuna and salmon, are beneficial. tion." While all wellness crazes aren't harmful, and supplements can some- times prove helpful, increasingly peo- ple are running the risk of adopting potentially damaging alternate reme- dies before seeking advice from optom- etrists or doctors. household cleaning chemicals, more powerful lights including a photogra- pher's halogen flood lamp or a welder's torch, or use of hand tools. High-qual- ity safety goggles and eyeguards are recommended. L I F E S T Y L E Mikaela Aitken Complacency and inaction One of the biggest misconceptions of eye health is the assumption that peo- ple suffering glaucoma will be alerted to the condition through experienc- ing symptoms. "We call glaucoma the silent thief of sight," says Dr Sharma. The same can also be said of cataracts. Early detection and treatment are par- amount in safeguarding sight and con- sequent independence in old age. Surprising lifestyle factors that impact eye health As medical knowledge advances and new technologies develop, our understanding of the eye and how best to treat it are constantly improving Poor contact lens hygiene There are millions of contact lens wear- ers worldwide. However, with most starting young, a sense of complacency around hygiene often creeps in. Prac- tices such as topping up contact lens solution with tap water or not changing the lenses on time creates a significantly higher risk of bacterial and fungal infec- tions. Acanthamoeba keratitis, which can cause blindness, is also on the rise. "We need to be careful of patients pur- chasing lenses online and encourage them to seek yearly eye checks in-be- tween orders," says Dr Sharma. orking on the frontline of eye health and providing healthy lifestyle tips is opthamologist Dr Daya Sharma from Eye & Laser Sur- geons in Sydney. "My advice for patients is not to rely on information they find on the internet," he says. "It's important not to ignore symptoms and for adults to schedule routine eye checks. Prevention is always better than treatment." Communication remains key in com- bating misinformation among the gen- eral public. Here's ten common lifestyle factors that can harm eye health: W Smoking Diego Gennaro on Unsplash Rame435 on Shutterstock pogrebkov / Getty Images

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