2020: Good Vision for Life
What will you do for your eyes in 2020?
Everything you eat and drink can potentially affect your eyes. If your diet leans heavily towards healthy foods, your eyes will thank you for it.
If you have sensitivities to certain foods (common examples are wheat and dairy products) your eyes are more likely to become inflamed and sore.
If your diet is friendly to your gut bacteria, you’re more likely to have eyes which are comfortable, and which will give you good vision for the rest of your life.
Why your Optometrist cares about gut health
We have trillions of bacteria living in our large intestine. Some are essential to our health, and others can cause us harm. If the balance leans heavily to the good guys, they’ll keep the harmful bacteria in check for us. If we starve the good guys and feed the harmful ones, our immune systems are triggered, and inflammation results in the gut. Long story short, this can lead to inflammation everywhere else, including the eyes.
Tips for nourishing your eyes
- Aim for a Mediterranean diet. Make it heavy on the green leafy veges like spinach and kale, lots of salads, oily fish like salmon and tuna (or fish oil supplements), olive oil and citrus.
- Minimize sugary treats and junk foods. Sugar and the chemical additives in junk food have a negative impact on your gut bacteria, which can then have follow-on effects to the health of your eyes.
We don’t mean your eye muscles – we mean your body! Cardiovascular exercise – as simple as going for a walk – does all sorts of things that are good for our bodies. Some of them we understand, some of them are still being investigated. Research from all over the world shows something we've observed in our patients for decades: people with exercise in their lives are people with healthier eyes. Perhaps most importantly, people over 50 with exercise in their lives are MUCH less likely to suffer from macular disease.
Interestingly, exercise is also good for your gut health, and gut health is emerging more and more as something that impacts on the health of our eyes.
How do I do this?
Bring your heart rate up for half an hour per day*. The simplest thing is to go for a walk.
Too hot/hilly/rainy? Kmart has a great little device for $39 called a Mini Stepper – there’s resistance built in so it's something between walking and climbing stairs. You can use it in your loungeroom while you watch TV.
Dodgy ankles/knees/hips/legs? Consider simple hand weight exercises while you watch TV. Although this is more focussed on muscle tone, there is a cardiovascular component to it. Kmart has hand weights for $6 each.
* If you have any doubts that this is safe for you, check with your doctor first.
** We are not exercise experts. We’re eye experts. Check with your GP, your physio, or an exercise physiologist if you’d like more info on how to safely introduce exercise to your life.
*** We don't have shares in Kmart.
Here are 3 common things that can cause eye problems:
The Sun: This is Queensland. Ultraviolet light from the sun causes problems with our retinas, our lenses, the whites of our eyes, and our eyelids. We frequently see little skin cancers on our patients' eyelids.
Industrial Accidents: Every few days we see a new person with a bit of steel or rust in their eye. While these are usually straightforward to remove, some of these injuries can cause permanent sight problems.
Sleep apnoea: Sleep apnoea is associated with a type of glaucoma which flies under the radar of pressure measurements. Happily our state-of-the-art instruments allow us to check for this "normal pressure glaucoma".
How do I protect them?
You can purchase good quality sunglasses across any price range in Australia. If they're labelled as "Sunglasses" they must give you 100% UV protection, and the regulations are very strictly policed. This is great news if you're always losing your sunnies. Just get a whole stack of cheapies!
At ICU we have free sunglasses for kids and adults – just ask. We also have a huge range of Maui Jim sunglasses – in our opinion these are the best lenses on the planet.
If you work in an industrial environment, talk to Bruce about our huge range of protective eyewear. These are great quality frames and most are suitable to take a prescription lens if you need one.
Get them checked
Chances are, you'll know if you can see properly or not, especially in the close range. What you may not know is whether you might have the earliest beginnings of what can threaten your eyesight in the longer term. Glaucoma and macular disease are best addressed early, which is usual when you'll notice no symptoms at all.
We’ll tell you how your eyes are going and how to look after them in the longer term.
How often should they be checked?
If you're under 65, we recommend a check every 2 years.
If you're 65 or over, or if there’s something that needs to be checked more regularly, we recommend annual eye checks.