- Dr Nisa Aslam and Pharmacist Sultan Dajani
All of us aware of how important our vision is. But how well do we take care of your eyes? A little extra time spent can help to prevent eye infection, sore, dry eyes, can reduce the risk of serious eye disease in later life. Here are a few eye health top tips from Dr Nisa Aslam and Sultan Dajani
1. Ensure your hands are clean
Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands. This will reduce the risk of you getting an eye infection.
2. Don’t rub your eyes
Try to avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes as this can lead to an eye infection.
3. Avoid triggers
If your eye discomfort is triggered by allergies for example, try to avoid the cause of your allergic reaction. Common triggers include pollen, dust, fur, and certain foods.
4. Don’t share personal items
Avoid sharing things like towels, flannels or make-up as this could pass on an infection.
5. Clean your eyes carefully
Any eye discharge should be gently cleaned from the eye area. Use a separate cotton wool pad soaked in water for each eye. Always wipe from the corner of the eye (nearest the nose) outwards to prevent cross-contamination of any infection into the other eye.
6. Sooth sore and dry eyes
A cold compress may soothe your eyes. A clean damp flannel that has been submerged in very cool water is ideal. For dry eyes, use an eye lubricant drop.
7. Contact lenses
Take care when inserting and removing contact lenses from your eyes. Always follow your optician’s instructions for cleaning your lenses and avoid wearing them for long periods of time. Take them out before you sleep and always wash your hands before touching your lenses.
8. Sore eyes and contact lenses
If you have sore eyes, you should remove your contact lenses and leave them out until all the signs and symptoms of the infection or irritation have gone.
Avoid using contact lenses until 24 hours after you have finished a course of eye treatment, such as drops or ointment. If you have glasses, wear these instead.
9. Prevent eye strain
You can help prevent eye strain by giving your eyes regular breaks from looking at the same object. This helps rest your eye muscles. Digital devices (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops) expose your eyes to high energy blue light. It's called blue light because the wavelengths emitted are near the bluer part of the spectrum. While using a device blink frequently and take a break every 20 minutes to focus on longer distance objects. Adjust lighting to minimise glare on the screen and keep the screen within 20-24 inches of your eye with the top of your screen slightly below eye level.
10. Avoid looking directly at the sun
This can cause damage to your eyes because they are sensitive to the sun’s strong UV (ultraviolet) rays. If you are outside on a sunny day, try wearing sunglasses to help minimise contact between your eyes and the sun’s rays.
11. Get regular eye tests
It is recommended that you have an eye test every two years. You should have more frequent tests if you have diabetes and are over the age of 40 if you have a family history of eye conditions if you are over the age of 70 (and do not have diabetes or a family history of eye problems) or if you have existing problems with your vision.
12. Take extra care with your eyes if you have diabetes
The condition can put you at a higher risk of developing eye conditions, including eye infections. You should have regular eye tests and always ensure that your blood glucose levels, and blood pressure are stable and properly controlled. If you smoke and have diabetes it can increase the risk of developing eye problems.
13. Avoid smoking
Smoking has been linked to several eye conditions including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), thyroid eye disease and general eye irritations. If you smoke, try to cut down or quit. For advice on quitting smoking, visit the NHS Smokefree
14. Eat a balanced diet
Choose fruit and vegetables, including dark green vegetables, berries, orange vegetables and fruits
15. Get plenty of exercise and sleep
Aim for plenty of exercise (outdoors in a natural environment when you can) and at least 6 hours sleep each night.
16. Wear sunglasses
To protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, choose sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection. Also, wearing a hat with a brim will greatly reduce the amount of UV radiation slipping around the side of your sunglasses.
17. Be aware of symptoms that could indicate a serious eye condition
Some signs and symptoms associated with the eye warrant a call to a doctor or optometrist. These are: sudden loss of vision, spots in the field of vision, dark spots in the centre of the field of vision, hazy or blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, inability to focus on near or far objects, episodes of cloudy vision, double vision, severe eye pain, floaters or flashers or an increase in these, wavy or crooked appearance of straight lines, unusual sensitivity to light or glare, trouble adjusting to a dark room, excess discharge or tearing.
18. Know when to call an emergency number or visit A and E for eye pain
If pain is unusually severe or accompanied by a headache, fever, unusual sensitivity to light or your vision changes suddenly or you also experience nausea and vomiting, call or visit an emergency service immediately.
19. In cases of red-eye with no change in vision consult a pharmacist
A pharmacist will be able to advise and provide an OTC eye treatment in the form of drops or ointment such as Golden Eye®. Be aware that red-eye caused by an allergy may require a different type of eye treatment. The pharmacist will advise.
20. Use safety eyewear
Safety glasses are highly recommended if you are exposed to some sort of hazardous airborne materials at work or at home. Also, use protective glasses if you are into sports like squash.