Your vision is precious. Here's how you can help protect it, according to the optometrists at Specsavers.
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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.
Eat for vision health
"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
A healthy diet, along with regular exercise, can also benefit your eyes by reducing your risk of diabetic eye
"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
diabetes, having regular eye tests and obtaining timely treatment, if required."
Be sun smart
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
eyes," Bennett advises.
"Sunglasses with a high level of protection against rays are essential, as is a wide-brimmed hat to provide
for your face.
"Everyone is at risk for eye damage without the proper precautions, so you should wear sunglasses even on
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."
Practise eye exercises
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
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
face and focus on a point of it. Slowly move the object to your nose and back again, ensuring that
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
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
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
20 feet away for 20 seconds," Bennett adds.
Protect your eyes from injury
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
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.
Know your family history
Many eye conditions and diseases are hereditary, so it’s important to know what your risk is for
such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or retinal degeneration. Understanding your family
can help you take precautions early.
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
Smoking also significantly increases your chances of developing cataracts and age-related macular
Quitline Contact Centre Manager Lindsay Whelan says, "Research shows that people are more likely to quit
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
know what to do to help, the best thing to do is to give us a call on 13 7848 or
Get regular eye checks
Eye tests play a huge role in making sure your eyes stay healthy.7 Not only is it important to
if you need glasses or a change to your prescription, an eye check at the optometrist can also check for
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
optometrist, or if you notice any changes to your vision.
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.