12-step-guide to protect your sight
(particularly useful for adults and teenagers)
1. Have your eyes regularly examined through a complete test that includes the fundus of the eye (indicatively every 1-2 years). If you suffer from diabetes, diseases of the immune system, hypertension or other vascular disorders, you should see an ophthalmologist every 6-12 months. Eye tests are also particularly important in the case of other family members having suffered from eye diseases (such as glaucoma).
2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision, such as flashes of light (phosphenes) or blurred vision: it’s always better to have your eyes examined by a specialist.
3. On sunny days, wear only sunglasses with legally labeled filters, especially when you go to the seaside or a mountainous area. Reduce, or avoid being exposed to harsh sunlight, as it accelerates the ageing process of the cells. If, for professional reasons (welders, gardeners, laser operators, etc.) or while doing DIY activities, you are exposed to situations that could damage your vision, you should always wear protective glasses or helmets.
4. Regularly attempt to read and look at distant objects by closing one eye at a time. If you notice that one eye sees less clearly than the other, perceives distorted images or wavy lines (Metamorphopsia), go to an ophthalmologist to have your eyes tested, including the fundus of the eye.
5. If you have red eyes don’t use eye drops without having consulted your ophthalmologist, unless they are artificial tears. If you are wearing contact lenses, take them off immediately.
6. When you driving or are in front of a computer screen, always use the glasses prescribed to you by your ophthalmologist.
7. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day (at least 5 portions per day, as recommended by the WHO) and reduce the intake of animal fats and calories. Vitamins are important to prevent serious diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Drink at least one litre of water every day (around 2 litres in the summer). This way, you can avoid or at least reduce myodesopsia (floaters or flying flies). It is also recommended to eat fish twice a week, in order to guarantee an adequate intake of Omega-3.
8. Beware of any substance that enters your eyes: dust, make up and detergents can generally cause inflammation and redness, and sometimes can even lead to corneal burn and abrasion (the transparent membrane of the eye). If your eyes become irritated after coming into contact with any of these substances, you should first rinse your eyes with abundant water and then consult an ophthalmologist, who will ascertain the presence of any damage and prescribe the correct therapy.
9. Contact lenses shouldn’t be worn for more than 6-8 hours per day. However tolerance to contact lenses may vary, depending on the eye and the type of lenses used. A preliminary eye examination is necessary in order to verify the presence of any contraindications for not using lenses. Apart from the daily variety, specific liquids should be used to clean and sterilize lenses. If your eyes are red, sore or discharging fluids, you should stop using lenses until further advice from your ophthalmologist, or you may incur further complications (i.e. keratitis).
10. Do not resort to DIY remedies (like hot compresses): they could worsen your eye condition.
11. If you smoke, you should stop: tobacco consumption is the main risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, a retinal disease that can lead to blindness. Smoking can also worsen many other eye diseases, contribute to the development of a cataract and harm the ocular surface.
12. When using a computer, you should move your eyes away from the screen at regular intervals, in order to prevent eye discomfort. After using the computer for 45 minutes, you should either divert your eyes away from the screen for 5 minutes or take a 15-minute break. Furthermore, when you are in front of the screen, you blink less: for this reason artificial tears should be used, especially in dry environments or in the presence of air conditioning.
Information edited by the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness - IAPB Italy
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Published on 8 January 2019. Updated on: 25 June 2018