According to research from Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index, 74 per cent of Australian men consider vision to be their most important sense – however the majority of Australian men (56 per cent) are worried about the quality of their eyesight.
Off the back of this, we’ve decided to take a closer look at men’s eye health – and what better time to do this than during International Men’s Health Week?
Commencing on Monday 15 June, the awareness week is dedicated to shining a light on key health issues facing Australian men, while educating the community on the importance of a healthy lifestyle among males.
When you consider 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable with early detection, raising awareness and encouraging regular eye examinations with an optometrist is critical to ensuring Australian men are maintaining good vision for life.
Inspired by this, we’ve taken a closer look at the attitudes and behaviours of Australian men when it comes to their eye health.
DIY projects and eye safety
According to the 2020 Vision Index, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of Australian men have sustained an eye injury while undertaking a DIY project, compared to just 14 per cent of Australian women.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that in 2016, men accounted for 83 per cent of the 11,078 registered cases on the Medicare database in which optometrists removed a foreign body embedded in the eye.
These figures are an important reminder that people should wear Australian standard safety glasses while doing tasks that generate debris such as wood cutting, carpentry, grinding, hammering, mowing or pruning.
Safety glasses are readily available in clear, tinted and prescription options and can be purchased at most hardware retailers or through an optometrist for those who require prescriptions.
Maintaining a healthy diet
Aside from wearing the right protective gear, there is plenty men can do to stay proactive about eye health, including maintaining a healthy diet.
Although 69 per cent of Australian men believe that eating a healthy diet can help keep eyes healthy and disease-free, in 2017-18, fewer than one in 30 men consumed the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.
Your eyes will thank you for incorporating a wide variety of foods like berries and citrus fruits, fish, nuts, wholegrain and leafy greens into your meals as they are rich in vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Exposure to direct UV light from the sun and reflective light can wreak havoc on eyes, potentially leading to conditions such as cataracts, pterygium, photokeratitis and macular degeneration.
Despite the majority knowing the risks, 31 per cent of males do not own UV protective sunglasses, with 32 per cent believing they are unnecessary.
With Australia’s harsh sun, it’s important to shield your eyes from damaging UV rays by wearing UV protected sunglasses when outdoors – and not just in summer!
Data from the 2020 Vision Index found that while almost half (43 per cent) of men always wear their sunglasses during summer, that number drops to 24 per cent during winter, despite the risk of UV damage remaining high.
Don’t be fooled by clouds or the fact that you’re in the shade; a significant amount of damage to the eye can come from indirect light, whether it is from the side or reflected off surfaces such as the ground, snow, sand or water.
If in doubt, your optometrist can assist with fitting and advise you on the best lenses for your protection.
It’s time to visit an optometrist
According to the Optometric Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) statistics for 2019, women make up the majority (58 per cent) of patients accessing optometry services under Medicare.
This is backed by insights from the 2020 Vision Index which revealed that 35 per cent of Australian males are not getting regular eye examinations and are therefore at increased risk of developing eye related diseases or preventable vision loss.
Regular visits to the optometrist are vital to overall eye health, and with International Men’s Health Week underway, there is no better time than now to prioritise your health by booking an appointment with your local optometrist
For further information on how to protect your eyes, contact your optometrist for expert advice.