Did you know that Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia (short-sightedness) in the world? What many don’t know is that 75 per cent of all blindness and moderate to severe visual impairment are preventable with early diagnosis and vision treatment.
ACUVUE is kickstarting an eye health movement to inspire Singaporeans to take action when it comes to their eye health as well as help those in need.
For every eye health check completed at a participating optical store in Singapore, Johnson & Johnson Vision will give free eye checks to four underprivileged children between now and 31 December.
Protect your eyes
Increased exposure to UV light is known to be a contributing factor in eye diseases.
“Shield your eyes by wearing sunglasses and prescription spectacles that offer adequate UV protection,” Dr Clement advises.
Some medications can cause visual side effects or dry eyes, so tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter meds you’re taking.
“If you have an eye condition or problem with tear production, taking antidepressants, anti-epileptics or sleeping tablets may worsen symptoms,” he says. Artificial tear drops can often provide relief.
Boost your vision
“Many eye diseases involve free radicals and oxidation, so what you eat can potentially accelerate or halt the process,” Dr Clement says. Although carrots spring to mind, many other foods can also give an instant eye health boost.
Try salmon, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds.
Regular vision tests
Annual eye examinations are recommended for everyone aged 50 and above.
“In addition to a routine eye check-up, ask your GP for an annual physical to identify underlying conditions that could potentially cause eye problems,” Dr Clement suggests.
Left untreated, diabetes and high blood pressure can cause permanent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and eye strokes.
Turn up the light
Use brighter lights for reading and give yourself extra time to refocus when emerging from low-lighting situations.
Also, wear spectacles with photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coating to reduce eye strain in environments where you’re exposed to bright sunlight.
Watch your diet
“In addition to antioxidant-rich fare, choose foods rich in vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids to protect your macula, the part of your eye responsible for central vision,” Dr Clement says.
Have no more than two standard drinks in a sitting and watch your diet – too much alcohol, fat and sugar can be harmful to the eyes. He says, “Being overweight raises your risk of diabetes, which can lead to loss of vision.”
Check your glasses
Ask an optometrist about eyewear for different light conditions and whether the glasses you currently wear are suitable for your needs.
“There’s a link between certain types of lenses and an increased risk of falls, which can worsen with age,” Dr Clement says. “With anyone particularly active, the risk of having a fall is greater when they wear multifocal lenses, compared to monofocal lenses.”
Also be mindful of driving – especially at night. Increase your range of vision by physically turning your head to look both ways at intersections.
Do your body good
If you haven’t quit smoking, now is the time to stop. Dr Clement adds, “Smoking can harm your health at any age, but as you age it’s particularly damaging because it increases your risk of eye disease progressing.”
Soothe eye strain
The Bates method is a system of ‘eyesight re-education’. Practise these for 10 minutes a day:
Rub your hands together then cup your palms over your eyes, without applying any pressure. Keep your back and neck straight and don’t drop your head.
Hold one index finger at arm’s length and the other about six inches away. Use both eyes to focus on one, then blink and focus immediately on the other.
Make dozens of delicate ‘butterfly blinks’ for 10-20 seconds; as you do so, turn your head gently from left to right, and back again.
Go for Gingko
Ginkgo fights free-radical damage in the retina and improves blood flow. In one study, people who took ginkgo for six months experienced a significant improvement in their long-distance sight.