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World Sight Day 2019: Science-backed Tips To Protect Your Vision And Prevent Blindness

World Sight Day is observed on 10 October every year. Also termed as WSD, the annual day of awareness is held on the second Thursday of October with the aim of focusing global attention on blindness and vision impairment. The theme for the year 2019 is Vision First!

World Sight Day aims to raise public awareness of issues surrounding blindness and visual impairment, influence Governments, and in particular Health Ministers to participate in and donate funds to blindness prevention programmes, educate people about blindness prevention and to generate support for Vision 2020 programme and activities.

Near to half of India's population have vision problems. With 550 million suffering from one or other kind of issues related to vision, most of the conditions are avoidable. The main causes of blindness in India in the age group of 50 years and older are cataracts, refractive error, glaucoma, posterior segment disorder, surgical complication, posterior capsular opacification and corneal blindness. [1]

While not all eye diseases can be prevented, there are simple steps that everyone can adopt, to prevent the onset of vision-related diseases and help keep the eyes remain healthy [2] . On this World Sight Day, we have gathered a bunch of effective tips and means that can help in protecting and maintaining your vision.

1. Avoid smoking

Tobacco in any form is not good for your eyes. While smoking, the cyanide from the smoke gets into your bloodstream and can destroy your optic nerve. Smoking increases the risk of developing cataract, macular degeneration and causes dry eyes. Studies reveal that quitting the habit of smoking can also prevent the onset of glaucoma and also reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if you are diabetic [3] .

2. Take a break from the screen

Staring at a computer or phone screen for too long can cause eye strain, blurry vision, trouble focusing at a distance and dry eyes. This is because, when your eyes are focused on the screen, you tend not to blink much and thereby causes dry eyes. You can follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eye fatigue from developing, that is, rest your eyes every 20 minutes. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Get up at least every 2 hours and take a 15-minute break [4] .

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3. Eat healthy

What you eat has a significant role in maintaining your eye health. Eating well is the first and foremost step you can take to improve your vision and overall eye health. Consumption of nutrient-rich foods regularly can help reduce the risk of some eye health problems [5] . A diet that is rich in dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration. Bright-coloured vegetables such as bell pepper, carrots and fruits such as orange are extremely beneficial for your eye health and also help prevent the onset of diseases related to your vision [6] .

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Leafy greens provide nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin which have been proven to help reduce the risk of eye diseases. Vitamin A found in bright yellow and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes also aid in boosting eye health. Incorporating fruits like strawberries, oranges, and mangoes provide vitamin C and other antioxidants and including salmon can help with tear production, due to the omega 3 content in it [6] [7] .

4. Wear sunglasses

Continuous exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses that have UV blocking as it can help prevent retinal damage and also protects the delicate eyelid skin, limiting the onset of both cancerous and non-cancerous growths on the eye [8] . While getting a pair of sunglasses, check for 100 per cent UV protection and make sure your sunglasses block 100 per cent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays.

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5. Use eye protection

Eye injuries are one of the major causes of blindness. Extreme sports, home repairs, gardening, and cleaning increase the risk of accidents, that can compromise your vision [9] . Apart from wearing sunglasses while out, wearing standard protective eyewear can help prevent accidents. Buy protective eyewear that is approved by ISNT.

6. Maintain a healthy weight

An individual who is overweight or obese is at a higher risk of developing diabetes and related conditions, which can eventually lead to vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the common reasons for blindness. The condition damages the tiny blood vessels of the retina and eventually lead to blurred vision and then blindness [10] .

Controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can prevent diabetes from spiralling out of control. Studies point out that a healthy weight loss diet can help reverse eye damage caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity [8] [9] .

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7. Get regular eye check-ups

Comprehensive eye exams aid in detecting vision problems at an early stage. Although your vision may appear to be healthy, there may be an underlying problem that can worsen with time. It helps determine whether or not you need glasses and also help identify eye conditions that can be treated effectively if detected early enough [11] .

At the age of 40, get a baseline eye exam, from 40 to 55 - get an eye exam every 2 to 4 years, from 56 to 64 - an eye exam every 1 to 3 years and ages 66 and above - an eye exam every year [12] .

Apart from the aforementioned, some of the additional ways to help protect your vision and prevent any damages are by following your ophthalmologist's instructions regarding the care and use of contact lenses, know your family history as many eye diseases cluster in families [13] . Your eyes are one of the most important organs in your body, take care of them!

FAQs On Eye Health & Vision

Q. What can ruin your eyesight?

A. Staring at your smartphone, watching TV at night, sleeping in contacts, rubbing your eyes, overusing eye drops, not eating a well-balanced diet, not using safety goggles and misusing eye make-up are some of the most common factors.

Q. Do carrots make your eyesight better?

A. Yes. Carrots are high in vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. Eating carrots will provide you with a small amount of vitamin A needed for good vision.

Q. Is darkness good for eyes?

A. It will weaken your eyes. It can ruin your vision. But according to most ophthalmologists, while reading in the dark might strain your eyes and give you a headache, the notion that it can cause lasting damage is wrong.

View Article References
  1. [1] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). Making eye health a population health imperative: Vision for tomorrow. National Academies Press.
  2. [2] Welp, A., Woodbury, R. B., McCoy, M. A., Teutsch, S. M., & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). The Role of Public Health and Partnerships to Promote Eye and Vision Health in Communities. In Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow. National Academies Press (US).
  3. [3] Galbraith, M. (2019). Choosing the Right Eyeglasses for Your Face. Pdf.
  4. [4] Lambert, L. (2017). No more tears? Understanding dry eye. SA Pharmacist's Assistant, 17(2), 12-16.
  5. [5] Welp, A., Woodbury, R. B., McCoy, M. A., Teutsch, S. M., & National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Eye and Vision Health: Recommendations and a Path to Action. In Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow. National Academies Press (US).
  6. [6] May, A. T. (2019). Nutrition, Exercise, and Eye Health. Optometry.
  7. [7] Straus, M. (2018). Eye health’s growing ingredient science and marketing opportunities.
  8. [8] Philpott, L. (2017). Smoke in your eyes. PS Post Script, (Dec 2017), 28.
  9. [9] Philpott, L. (2015). Family matters: Eyecare: Be eye aware. PS Post Script, (Aug 2015), 16.
  10. [10] Pirrone, L. (2015). Guild: Eye care: An eye for the details. PS Post Script, (Mar 2015), 36.
  11. [11] Paola, S. (2016). OTC: Eye care: Dealing with dry eyes. AJP: The Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 97(1155), 47.
  12. [12] Philpott, L. (2016). Look and listen: Promoting eye and ear care. AJP: The Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 97(1150), 53.
  13. [13] Kennedy, R. D., & Douglas, O. (2015). Strategies to help patients to stop smoking: the optometrist’s perspective. Clin Opt, 7, 103-113.

Read more about: eye health vision
Story first published: Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 16:00 [IST]
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