Do you get regular eye checks?

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There are many health checks we’re supposed to get regularly. We often get standard ones at our local GP, have our dental check-ups on the reg and where relevant, have sexual health examinations. But what about eye health? It turns out eye examinations are a super important health check to have frequently, regardless of whether you wear glasses or not! I spoke to Giuliana Baggoley, State Eyecare Manager at OPSM, and Peter Larsen, Specsavers Director of Optometry, who explain why eye checks should regularly appear on our to-do list.

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How often should I get my eyes checked?

On average, a regular eye check every two years is ideal, but your optometrist may advise more regular visits, depending on your individual case. “Some eye and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms,” Giuliana explains, so regular eye checks will ensure early detection, to help prevent any vision loss or other damage in these cases. Peter agrees, saying glaucoma “is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and early detection is dependent on the optometrist carefully looking at the optic nerve at the back of the eye to look for degenerative signs.”

bh tip: Kill two birds with one stone and get your pap smear and eye check on the same day, as both of these health checks need to happen every two years. 

Common eye issues

Believe it or not, almost half of Australians wear glasses or contact lenses and Giuliana says the most common issues affecting Australians are long- and short-sightedness. A recent study found that in 30 years time, at least half the world’s population will be short-sighted due to our heavy reliance on technology.[1] Sheila Zhou, Expert Scientist at USANA explains, “We are using our eyes to stare at computer screens, televisions and mobile phones more than ever before which is linked to eye fatigue and an increase in eye-related issues.”

As mentioned, glaucoma is also a serious issue affecting Australians. Specsavers and Glaucoma Australia recently discovered that 56 per cent of Australians and 68 per cent of Gen X have put off having an eye test. This is alarming to Peter, since 50 per cent of people with glaucoma remain undiagnosed.[2] Peter emphasises that having an eye test should be considered just as important as having a check-up with your GP.

Contacts vs. glasses

If your check-up indicates your eyes need some extra assistance, you have a couple of options to choose from. Deciding between glasses and contacts is a personal choice and often influenced by lifestyle, comfort and convenience. Giuliana explains that contact lenses offer some specific advantages over spectacles: “Because they sit directly on the eye, one’s peripheral vision is unobstructed, and people can participate in sport or outdoor activity without [any] fear of [their] glasses falling off. Contact lenses also allow people to change the colour of their eyes.” There are even contact lenses that enhance the natural colour of your eye without drastically changing the colour. I recently tried the Acuvue Define Lenses and the results were really cool!

Solutions

Giuliana’s number one tip for maintaining good eye health is regular visits to your optometrist. “Together you can formulate the best plan for you to ensure your vision and eye health are managed well for life,” she says.

Sheila’s top tips include:

  • Eat for your eyes – ensure you’re getting antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein to protect your eyes from sun damage. These are found in most yellow and green vegetables as well as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. Foods containing vitamin A, C and E, as well as DHA (an omega-3 essential fatty acid found in coldwater fish) are also essential to eye protection and health.
  • Take supplements – even if you’re eating a healthy diet, there are daily nutritional supplements that can help to promote long-term eye health. Look for ones with added zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry extract and vitamin C.
  • Give your eyes a break – sleep is so important for all aspects of our health, including our eyes. Sleep helps the eyes to rest, repair and recover. If you’re working at a computer all day, aim to rest your eyes for 10 minutes every hour.

Do you get regular eye checks? Do you prefer glasses or contacts?

[1]http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160217113308.htm
[2] http://www.glaucoma.org.au/what.htm

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