New Years Resolutions

Posted: Monday 7th January 2019

How about some eyecare resolutions for your eyes – they have got to last you a lifetime so how can you take care of your eyes better?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Give up smoking. It is well known that smoking is the major modifiable risk factor for age related macular degeneration which can cause devastating sight loss. Smokers with a genetic predisposition are 20 times more likely to get this disease. Cigarette smoke contains 4,700 chemicals, which are extremely toxic. Repeatedly exposing delicate retinal pigment cells to these oxidants effectively fast-forwards the ageing process. At the same time as increasing oxidant levels in the body, smoking decreases the levels of antioxidants and therefore reduces the body’s ability to protect itself. Smoking also causes the blood vessels to narrow. This affects the blood vessels to the eye and increases overall blood pressure, which is another risk factor for macular degeneration. Passive smokers are also at risk.

2. Increase your dietary pigment levels. Dark leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, and other brightly coloured foods such as egg yolks, are rich in carotenoid pigments which are vital for the eye. The delicate layer of tissue in the eye called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) needs pigment to stay healthy and strong. A failure in the RPE is the biological cause of macular degeneration. Make it a habit to always pick your vegetables for colour – instead of iceberg lettuce – pick watercress or spinach leaves. Instead of white potatoes – pick sweet potatoes.

3. Follow the 20:20:20:20 rule. Screen use is unavoidable these days with the vast majority of the population using several screen types in a day – or even several at once! Phones, e-readers, tablets, laptops, TV’s – the list expands as technology continues to advance apace – even some fridges now have interactive screens displaying their contents, shopping lists and recipes! Prolonged fixed staring at a screen can cause digital eyestrain and dry eye symptoms. Every 20 minutes, you should take a 20 second break, blink 20 times and look 20 feet away. This refreshes the protective film of tears that covers the eye, and relaxes the eye muscles.

4. Review your contact lens habits. Complications are rare with modern contact lenses however it is easy to get into bad habits and the New Year is a good time to refresh your memory on how you should be looking after your lenses. Always thoroughly wash and dry your hands before touching your eyes or lenses as tap water should never come into contact with lenses or a lens case – and the same is true for a swimming pool, hot tub or sea water. Tap water is safe to drink but unsafe for the eyes as is contains microscopic bugs that don’t affect the gut but can cause devastating eye infections. Lenses that come into contact with water should be thrown away as there is a risk of infection from lenses that have been in contact with water. For a full review of cleaning and care instructions click here and watch our short animations.

5. Have regular eye examinations. Make sure not to miss your regular eye examinations and take advantage of all the newest technology healthcare checks on offer! Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) is the most detailed health check available for the macula and optic nerve and is available at many opticians – and all branches of Rawlings – we take multiple scans to get the best results. OCT takes just a few minutes and simply involves putting your chin on a chinrest – there is no contact with the eye at all. The NHS recommends two yearly eye examinations for all adults. Children under 7 and some people with specific clinical needs may require more frequent checks than this and your optometrist will advise you accordingly. These days many people choose to opt out of the NHS if they wish to have more frequent eye examinations and supplementary health checks not funded by the NHS.

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