Friday, 10 April 2015

10 Ways to Protect Your Eyes

Our eyes are one of our most important organs giving us 80% of the information about our surroundings. It should be on our priority list to get them checked regularly, to ensure that they are in top health.

Written by Dr Scott Mackie
Dr Scott Mackie, Consultant Optometrist and founder of Mackie Opticians explains:
"Getting our eyes checked regularly is vital as it can detect early signs of conditions before you're aware of any symptoms, such as diabetes, cataract, macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. If caught in time many of these conditions can be managed to reduce the damage caused to your vision. As well as regular eye checks there are also other precautions you can take in order to make sure that your eyes are protected."

1. Make an appointment
First on the list, is making an appointment with your local optician. It is recommended that adults should have an eye test every two years or sooner if recommended by your Optometrist. The Optometrist is often the first port of call to detect any problems with your eyes, and more often or not will be able to suggest treatment to help reduce symptoms. Family history

Ask around – in most cases people with family members who have conditions such as AMD, glaucoma or cataracts, are more likely to suffer from the same problems in older age. Knowledge is power – the more you know about your family history, the more information you will have to seek treatment or prevent the problem before it starts.

2. Eat well
Having a healthy diet is advisable for general health and wellbeing but making sure that you get the right amount of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids can help in reducing the progression of eye conditions such as AMD. In fact:

• Antioxidants have been shown to reduce progression by 25%,
• Lutein and Zeaxanthin rich diets (Macular pigment) reduced AMD risk by 43%
• Increased omega-3 reduced the risk of AMD by 35%.

All of the above can be found in dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach, eggs, oily fish, yellow and orange peppers and broccoli and beans. However, the amounts required to act as good "oxidants" in the yes usually require you to take supplementation.

3. Supplementation
It isn't easy to eat well all of the time - taking a supplement rich in the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can also help to protect and maintain healthy eyes.

Try Nutrof Total (RRP £14.99, 30 capsules), they contain essential nutritional support including antioxidant vitamins, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Omega-3 fish oils plus essential minerals.
Nutrof Total is available from independent opticians and some larger groups e.g. Boots. For more information visit or talk to your local Optometrist.

4. Sunglasses
Alongside with being bad for your skin, ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the delicate tissues of the eye, particularly in the lens and the retina; UV light is a factor in cataracts. You should choose sunglasses that fit well and come with both 99% to 100% UVA and UVB radiation protection to ensure that your eyes are fully protected.

5. Exercise
Research published by the Journal of Neuroscience has suggests that at least 20 minutes of exercise a day , five times a week can help combat AMD . Exercise will help with your general wellbeing but it can also protect your eyesight by reducing inflammation in your body that can negatively impact your eyes. So instead of jumping in the car to the shop try walking, cycling or even jogging.

6. Take a break
A survey conducted by eye care specialists Spectrum Thea revealed that Brits spend on average 11 hours a day looking at screens, that's 77.32 hours per week looking at computer, mobile, TV, tablet and e-reader screen.

Moreover, research has shown that while we concentrate on reading, playing computer games and watching videos our blink rate is reduced by up to 90%.. This reduced blinking can lead to a higher rate of tear evaporation, one of the leading causes of dry eyes, which is also linked with another common eye condition, Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids).

Every 20 minutes, try to look away from your screen and look at something approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is called the 20 20 20 rule which is great way of preventing digital eye strain.

7. Eye Drops
Dry Eye is a common condition. It can be caused by a range of everyday factors including ageing, wearing contact lenses, pollution, wind, hormonal changes in women, air conditioning, dry environments, certain medications including some beta-blockers, oral contraceptives, and regular use of computers. If you suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome or have noticed symptoms that include feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness which get worse throughout the day or you find that your eyelids stick together when you wake up, then visit your Optician for a diagnosis. They will give advice and recommend suitable eye drops to lubricate your eyes and help prevent further problems from occurring. It is essential that you look for preservative free eye drops as the use of preservative can cause irritation or additional problems after long term use.

Try Hyabak hypotonic formula. . It works by reducing evaporation, increasing the natural tear film and, restoring the natural osmotic balance to give sufferers hydration and lubrication of the ocular surface. It lasts a long time on the surface of the eye, leading to a reduction in tear evaporation and effectively reduces the signs and symptoms of dryness. Available from all independent Opticians (RRP £10.50 for 300 applications).

8. Be gentle on your eyelids
A common eye condition is Blepharitis. It will affect up to 1 in 3 people in the UK . Symptoms include inflammation of the eyelid margins, irritation, crusty debris in the lashes or corner of the eye (especially in the morning when you first wake up), burning, dryness and a gritty feeling in the eye.

Daily cleansing of the eyes and eyelids as part of your everyday beauty routine needs to be gentle and use non-greasy, non-irritating products. Using wipes such as Blephaclean wipes not only remove impurities, stains and make-up, it also cleanses the skin and eyelids. Formulated by dermatologists and tested by Ophthalmologists the unique micelle action moisturises and soothes the skin and is clinically proven to significantly improve signs and symptoms associated with Blepharitis.
Blephaclean pads are completely preservative, alcohol and detergent free for top eye care treatment without irritating your delicate skin. Available from independent opticians and some larger groups e.g. Boots (RRP 8.99, 20 pads).

9. Throw it away
On average British women keep hold of their make-up products for six years after they go off which exposes them to toxins and bacteria, which can lead to risk of eye infections. Eye make-up such as mascara should be thrown away after its use by date to avoid infections.
Mascara – Approximately 4 months depending on the brand
Eyeliner – Approximately 1 year depending on the brand
Eye shadow – Approximately 1 year depending on the brand

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