7 ways to keep your eyesight stronger for longer

By HBF

4 minutes

30 April 2021

Woman wearing glasses reading on an iPad in a cafe

Your vision is precious. Here's how you can help protect it, according to the optometrists at Specsavers.

The information, research and expert advice presented in this article was provided by our friends at Specsavers. 

If you could only keep one of your five senses, which would you choose? Research from Specsavers shows that when Australian adults were asked this, 87% rated sight as the most important sense.1

So what can you do to look after something so precious? While genetics and ageing play a big role in many vision problems, there are some ways you can support your eye health through simple lifestyle changes.

From nutrition to sun safety, here’s what optometrists suggest for keeping your vision stronger for longer.

  1. Eat for vision health

  2. "There is some evidence that certain antioxidant vitamins – such as vitamins A, C and E – and the mineral zinc may be beneficial for good eye health," says Specsavers optometrist Matt Bennett.

    These nutrients can be found in a variety of vegetables and fruits including broccoli, strawberries, spinach, carrots, red peppers, sweet potato and citrus fruits.

    Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed may also help support good eye health.2

    A healthy diet, along with regular exercise, can also benefit your eyes by reducing your risk of diabetic eye disease.3

    "Rising rates of type 2 diabetes are expected to substantially increase the number of Australians impacted by diabetic eye disease over the coming years," Bennett says.

    "The chance of suffering vision loss from diabetic eye disease can be significantly reduced by good control of diabetes, having regular eye tests and obtaining timely treatment, if required."

  3. Be sun smart

  4. Just like your skin, your eyes are vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays.4

    "When in the sun, it’s best to combine a number of strategies to prevent UV radiation from damaging your eyes," Bennett advises.

    "Sunglasses with a high level of protection against rays are essential, as is a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade for your face.

    "Everyone is at risk for eye damage without the proper precautions, so you should wear sunglasses even on cloudy days. Polarised lenses also help reduce the glare reflecting off other surfaces, and you can opt for prescription sunglasses if you need vision correction as well."

  5. Practise eye exercises

  6. Eye exercises won’t fix vision problems like short- or long-sightedness, but experts say they are still beneficial for healthy vision and improving eye comfort.

    "The muscles of the eye do not work in the same way as the muscles of your stomach, for example, that benefit from sit-ups and so on," Bennett says.

    "While these exercises won't save you from wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, they can help to improve the flexibility of your eyes and may be useful for those people who spend a lot of time in front of computer screens at work."

    Here are a few eye exercises to try:

    • Tromboning – Hold an object such as a pen at arm’s length in front of your face and focus on a point of it. Slowly move the object to your nose and back again, ensuring that you have continued to focus on the same point of the object.

    • Figure eight – Pretend there's a sideways figure eight in front of you. Lead your eyes around the imaginary track slowly and carefully and then track back over the other way.

    • Near and far focusing – Place something in front of your eyes (a finger will do) and focus on it, then switch your focus to a distant object across the room.

    "Another great exercise for those working at a computer is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds," Bennett adds.

  7. Protect your eyes from injury

  8. Whether you’re at home, at work, playing sport or pursuing a hobby, it’s recommended to use appropriate eye protection. Take special care in situations where you are exposed to chemicals, sharp objects or materials such as wood shavings or metal shards.

    "For those working in factory environments or amongst machinery, I recommend certified safety glasses with polycarbonate lenses as they are tough, durable and able to cope with most situations," Bennett says.

  9. Know your family history

  10. Many eye conditions and diseases are hereditary, so it’s important to know what your risk is for diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or retinal degeneration. Understanding your family history can help you take precautions early.

  11. Quit smoking

  12. If you smoke, you’re up to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which can lead to diabetic eye disease.5 For those that have diabetes, smoking can make blood glucose levels harder to control, which increases your chances of complications such as eye conditions, heart disease and kidney disease.3 5

    Smoking also significantly increases your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.6

    Quitline Contact Centre Manager Lindsay Whelan says, "Research shows that people are more likely to quit smoking if they receive the support, knowledge and resources that we offer at Quitline.

    "If you smoke and are considering stopping or if you have a family member or friend who smokes, and you want to know what to do to help, the best thing to do is to give us a call on 13 7848 or visit quit.org.au."

  13. Get regular eye checks

  14. Eye tests play a huge role in making sure your eyes stay healthy.7 Not only is it important to check if you need glasses or a change to your prescription, an eye check at the optometrist can also check for signs of any eye health issues.

    Detecting eye conditions like glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration early gives you the best chance of preventing vision loss.8

    Specsavers recommends having an eye test with an optometrist every two years, or more often if advised by your optometrist, or if you notice any changes to your vision.

Need cover for glasses and contacts?

Get 100% back on glasses and contacts (up to annual limit) with HBF Extras cover.

Find out more

Was this information helpful?

Your feedback is appreciated and helps us
provide more useful, relevant content.
We've received your response,
thanks for letting us know.
 

Disclaimer

This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.