As the cold winter months give way to the vibrant and colourful days of spring, it's the perfect time to not only clean out your living spaces but also refresh your health routines, and one crucial aspect that’s often overlooked is eye health.
“There’s nothing quite like a change of season to prompt us to revisit, readjust and reset our daily routines and habits and there are several simple ways you can ensure your eyes are ready for the sunnier months ahead,” said Dom Willson, optometrist and Professional Services Advisor at Optometry Australia.
Catch up with your local optometrist
When was the last time you popped into your local optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam? An eye exam is not just about checking your vision; it evaluates the overall health of your eyes.
“An optometrist can detect early signs of eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Going for a regular eye exam every two to three years is essential to maintaining good eye health and preventing eye disease, so consider this step the foundation of your eye health spring clean.”
By using our Find an Optometrist search tool, you can simply pop in your postcode and voila! You can then choose from your closest Good vision for life optometrists and make an appointment with the practice directly.
Get out for some green time
By 2050 it is estimated that around 55 percent of Aussies will be living with myopia (short sightedness), with rates amongst younger Australians increasing sharply.
While many of us will be quick to blame the increase in screen time, it’s actually what those hours in front of the phone, television and tablets deny us daily that’s causing the biggest problem.
“Researchers from China and Australia have discovered that spending about an extra 1.25 hours per day outside reduces the risk of developing myopia by 50 percent. If you can make it a spring resolution to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as much as possible, your eyes – and your overall health - will thank you for it.”
Get a handle on hay fever
Although glorious in the wake of winter’s chilly grip, spring’s sunnier skies, blooming blossoms and wispy winds also means hay fever season is now upon us.
“Allergic conjunctivitis caused by pesky pollen particles in the air can cause itching, redness, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sensitivity to light. If left unmanaged or treated, eye allergies caused by hay fever can lead to mild, moderate and even more severe complications. Additionally, if you wear contact lenses, delayed treatment may lead to future intolerance to contact lenses later in life.”
Taking a quick trip to the optometrist as soon as eye symptoms present can help identify allergic conjunctivitis, meaning appropriate treatment options to alleviate discomfort can be discussed and applied before your eyes' condition worsens.
Check in on your contacts
If you wear contact lenses, spring is a great time to assess how they’re working for you.
“Knowing when to replace your contact lenses is essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Some signs that indicate it's time to replace your contact lenses include gradual or sudden discomfort or irritation while wearing them, blurry vision, dryness or excessive tear production and recurrent eye infections. It’s a good idea if you’re a contact wearer to have a chat with your optometrist on a yearly basis to ensure you're utilising the right lens option that best suits your lifestyle.”
Once you’ve ensured you have the best option for you, unless they are ‘dailies’, make sure to clean them as directed and replace them according to the recommended schedule.
And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses to avoid introducing bacteria to your eyes!
Slip on the sunnies
According to the Cancer Council of Australia, it is estimated that more than 400 people were diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2022 and if you have blue or green eyes, your risk for developing cancer of the eye is greater.
So, as the sun begins to shine brighter during spring, it's more important than ever to protect your eyes from its strengthening glint and glare.
“We encourage that sunglasses are worn year-round, however as the number of sunny days increase as we come into spring and summer, so does the risk of exposing our eyes to harmful UV rays. This can increase the risk of cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration as well as skin cancer in the eye and around the eye area.”
When hunting for suitable sunnies, look for ones that block both UVA and UVB rays. Purchasing a pair of large, wrap-around, close-fitting sunglasses will also help prevent reflected UV radiation and glare from reaching your eyes.
Your eyes are what you eat
Just as fresh, healthy foods can invigorate your body, they can also benefit your eyes.
“Incorporating foods rich in nutrients like vitamins A, C, E and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet will help to support eye vitality. Carrots, leafy greens, citrus fruits and fish are excellent choices and spring is the perfect time to start adding these colourful and nutritious foods to your daily meal plan.”
Avocado, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, capsicum, sweet potatoes and eggs will also get the tick of approval from your eyes.
Good sleepers have happy peepers
We all know quality sleep is essential for your overall well-being, so it also makes plenty of sense that catching enough zzzs is important for eye health, too.
“As is true of the brain and body, our eyes also use the time we are asleep to heal themselves. Not getting enough sleep can lead to having dry, itchy or bloodshot eyes. Consistent nights of poor sleep can also contribute to reduced tear production, which can increase the risk of eye infections.”
You can create a sleep-friendly environment by ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. Avoid screens before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by devices can disrupt your sleep patterns and strain your eyes.
To schedule an appointment with your local optometrist, use our easy search tool here.