SEEING is perhaps our greatest sense, so keeping eyes healthy is essential for a hearty life.
Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with sight loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who will become blind.
According to The Brien Holden Vision Institute, early diagnosis of eye conditions is often the key to preventing permanent damage and blindness.
Regular eye examinations, they say, help ensure that eye conditions are identified early enough for preventative action to be taken.
The Institute recommends everyone should have their eyes checked every two years.
More importantly, if you are over 40 years old, have diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts or wear glasses.
It is crucial to seek an examination if you are unable to see things clearly from a distance, struggle to see clearly when you are reading or doing other close work, or have red, itchy or painful eyes.
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An eye exam and a pair of glasses can enable you to see clearly, making it easier to work, care for your family and, for your child, easier to learn at school.
You can also take care of your eyes every day to help reduce your risk of eye disease:
Avoid sun damage: Wearing a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses and staying in the shade between 10am and 2pm are easy ways to protect your eyes. Long-term and unprotected sun exposure can lead to pterygia, cataract, pinguecula and cancers of the eye all of which can lead to loss of sight and possible blindness.
A healthy diet: A healthy diet should include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish and a limited amount of fat, alcohol and salt. Regular exercise and maintaining normal blood pressure and glucose levels are also important and will help prevent eye conditions
Stop smoking: Harmful chemicals from smoking can affect your eyes by damaging the lens and blood vessels which can lead to vision loss. Smokers are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy and vitamin A deficiency; are two to three times more likely to have cataracts and four times more likely to develop macular degeneration.
Protect: Accidents can happen at home or work and it’s important to protect your eyes to avoid injury. If you are working with cleaning chemicals, welding, gardening with fertilisers or working with sharp objects or tools, it is very important to wear safety glasses.
The Brien Holden Vision Institute is now the largest vision (correction) research centre in the world.
For more about the Institute, you can visit brienholdenvision.org.