Good vision for life’s essential guide to maintaining good eye health

This month marks National Eye Health Awareness Month in Australia and the JulEYE initiative, which is run by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), is dedicated to raising awareness about eye health and the importance of regular eye examinations.

The windows to the world, our eyes play one of the most crucial roles in daily life and yet many of us take them for granted until we face issues.

Alarmingly, findings from Optometry Australia’s 2022 Vision Index Report found a staggering 31 percent of Aussies believed a visit to the optometrist was not necessary until after signs or symptoms of vision issues had presented.

To support you on your good vision for life journey, we’ve put together an essential guide to help you keep your eyes healthy and strong.

Book in for regular eye examinations with your optometrist 

Regular eye exams are vital for detecting problems early. Many eye conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, develop slowly and often without obvious symptoms. Around 12 million Australians have reported long-term eye conditions yet 90% of all vision impairment is preventable or treatable with early detection. 

"Think of regular eye exams like routine maintenance for your car. Just as you wouldn't wait for your car to break down before getting it checked, you shouldn't wait for vision problems to arise before visiting your optometrist. Regular eye exams can catch issues early and keep your vision in top shape. It's all about prevention and making sure your eyes stay healthy for the long haul,” said Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Officer at Optometry Australia.

It is recommended that every Australian, from the time they start primary school, pay their optometrist a visit every year until age 18, then every two years as an adult for a comprehensive eye examination. 

People over 65 years of age or anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of eye disease should have more frequent exams. 

Practice good screen habits and prioritise green time away from digital devices 

By 2050 it is estimated that around 55 percent of Aussieswill be living with myopia with rates amongst younger Australians increasing sharply, making it concerning that an Optometry Australia surveyof 1,000 Australians found that around 1 in 3 kids still hadn’t visited an optometrist for a routine eye exam by the age of 16. 

The same survey also revealed that more than half of surveyed parents noted their children spend at least four hours daily in front of screens, underscoring the impact on outdoor activities or 'green time.'  

“Studies have consistently shown that increased time spent outdoors is also associated with a lower risk of developing myopia. Exposure to 90 to 120 minutes a day of bright, natural light outdoors  plays a protective role against myopia onset and progression in children.” 

Early diagnosis is crucial in managing childhood myopia and slowing its progression, as high levels of myopia casue an increased risk of permanent blindness later in life through cataract, glaucoma and problems with the retina (sensor layer at the back of the eye).

Keep on top of chronic eye conditions 

Chronic conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration can lead to irreversible vision loss if not properly managed.  

“Regular monitoring and treatment can help slow disease progression, alleviate symptoms, and preserve remaining vision. Early detection through regular eye exams is key to initiating timely treatment and minimising the impact of these conditions on daily activities and independence.” 

By actively managing chronic eye conditions, individuals can significantly improve their long-term visual outcomes and maintain a higher quality of life. 

You are what you eat 

A healthy diet is crucial for maintaining eye health because it supplies essential vitamins and minerals that support various eye functions. 

"Nutrients found in colourful fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts play a crucial role in protecting your vision. Incorporating these foods into your daily meals can help keep your eyes healthy and your vision sharp." 

Omega-3 fatty acids support retinal health and may prevent dry eye syndrome while a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Additionally, antioxidants like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene protect eyes from free radical damage, reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.  

Invest in quality UV protective sunglasses 

Protecting your eyes from UV rays is crucial due to the serious damage they can cause.  

“UV exposure contributes to the development of cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye diseases. UV rays can also cause photokeratitis, akin to sunburn on the cornea, which may result in temporary vision loss and discomfort.” 

Additionally, UV exposure can lead to skin cancer around the eyes, such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Long-term UV damage accumulates, increasing the risk of these conditions.  

UV-protective sunglasses also help reduce glare and enhance comfort and visual clarity, especially in bright conditions or while driving. 

Say goodbye to cigarettes  

Quitting smoking is crucial for maintaining good eye health as it reduces the risk of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), dry eye syndrome, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy.  

“Smokers face earlier onset and increased severity of cataracts, blurred vision from AMD affecting central vision and discomfort and potential eye damage from dry eye syndrome. There is also the heightened risk of optic nerve damage and exacerbated diabetic retinopathy complications.”  

Protect those peepers 

It's crucial to wear protective eyewear while participating in high-risk sports, workplace activities that involve construction or chemicals, home DIY projects and other outdoor jobs that carry the possibility of debris exposure. 

“In Australia, workplace environments account for about 60% of all reported eye injuries treated in hospital emergency departments, ranging from chemical burns to penetrating injuries. It's significant to note that wearing properly prescribed eye protection could prevent nine out of every ten cases of ocular injuries.” 

Appropriate eye protection may include safety glasses, goggles, face shields or specialised eyewear that protects against specific hazards.  

 H2O is the go 

Quench your thirst and work towards proper hydration, which helps maintain the necessary moisture levels in the eyes, preventing dryness and discomfort.  

“Particularly important in environments with low humidity or prolonged screen use, adequate hydration supports optimal tear production, which is essential for lubricating the eyes and flushing out debris and irritants. Dehydration can lead to reduced tear production, causing symptoms like itching, burning and blurred vision.”  

Staying hydrated also ensures that essential nutrients reach the eyes for optimal function and reducing the risk of eye conditions related to poor vascular health. 

Get your eyes tested this JulEYE 

To schedule an appointment with your local optometrist today, use our easy search tool here.

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