Looking after your eyes is too easily overlooked, but it’s very important to care for your eyes, regardless of how old you are.

According to the Department of Health, more than 450,000 Australians are living with blindness or impaired vision. Around 90% of vision impairment in Australia is preventable with early detection.

Things you can do

There are a number of ways to protect your eyes.

  1. If you work in environments where it’s possible you may get something in your eyes, such as chemicals, dust, metal fragments or woodchips, wearing goggles or a face visor may help shield your face. It’s a good idea to also wear eye protection when using gardening equipment or cleaning chemicals, as well as when you’re playing sport.
  2. To reduce the risk of infection to your eyes, try not to rub them, especially if your hands aren’t clean. Avoid sharing items like towels, face washers, and makeup as this can spread bacteria. Make sure you regularly wash your makeup brushes and replace eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner every three months to remain hygienic.
  3. If you wear contact lenses, be careful when inserting and removing them from your eyes. Wash your hands before touching your lenses, and ensure you are following cleaning instructions from your optometrist. If your eyes become sore from wearing contact lenses, leave them out until the symptoms of irritation have cleared.
  4. Avoiding looking directly at bright lights can help prevent damage to your eyes. The sun’s UV rays can be harmful to your eyes, so wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat if you’re outside, especially on a sunny day. Blue-light from screens can also cause problems, so ensure you are sitting at least an arm’s length away, and don’t hold the screen too close to your eyes.
  5. If you have allergies, ensure you avoid triggers as much as possible. Common irritants include dust, pollen, and fur. Wearing sunglasses outside can help prevent these irritants from entering your eyes. Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can cause further inflammation and damage. A clean face washer which has been dampened by cold water can help soothe your eyes.
  6. Any discharge from your eyes should be wiped outwards, meaning it is wiped in the direction away from the eyes. This will help prevent infection and cross-contamination. Gently clean the area using a water-soaked cotton wool pad, and ensure you are using a different pad for each eye.
  7. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help your eyes’ wellbeing. Diabetes heightens your risk of developing some eye conditions, and smoking is linked to several problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration, thyroid eye disease, and general irritations. Combining a healthy diet and exercise can also help prevent diabetes.
  8. Eat a diet which includes antioxidant-rich ingredients such as leafy green vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, and vitamin A, C and E, and zinc. Studies have shown these foods can help improve the health of our eyes.

Eye check ups

The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor recommend regularly having your eyes tested. Regular check ups can help identify issues at an early stage, especially considering changes to our eye health can be gradual. Starting treatment as soon as possible is important for reducing the risk of permanent damage to your eyes.

Optometrists urge people to have their eyes tested at least once every two years, but you may need to have your eyes tested more frequently depending on your age and if you have any pre-existing conditions.

Having your children’s eyes checked before they start school is a good idea, as undetected issues may inhibit their learning and development. Early diagnosis of some eye diseases in childhood can help to minimise long-term damage or permanent vision loss.

Optometrists use several tests to assess your eyesight. These tests may evaluate your ability to see up close and far away, your peripheral and colour vision, examining the muscles around your eyes to ensure they’re working together properly, check that your eyes respond normally to light and movement, and they’ll also examine both outside and inside your eye for any problems.

If you have concerns about your eyes, or think you may have an infection, it is recommended you see a doctor or optometrist as soon as possible.