General eye care
Eye care measures for our changing lifestyles
With our changing lifestyles a new plethora of eye diseases have cropped up. An understanding of these with a few lifestyle modifications we can ensure continued health of this very precious part of our body – our eyes. Our eyes work very hard for us and deserve some attention and care.
As our screens have become smaller- from the televisions to the computer screens and now our smart-phones, they have also come closer to our eyes. Also since they are more accessible now, we spend longer hours with our gadgets. Continuous use of these causes undue strain to our eyes manifesting as tiredness, headache, blurring of vision, irritation and redness. These are together termed as “computer vision syndrome”. There are three reasons why this happens:
- Our eyes need to focus when we look at a near object- computer or phone. Uninterrupted viewing of these causes a spasm of the inner muscles of our eyes.
- Our blinking rate is normally 16 times a minute. This is reduced to 6 times a minute when staring at a screen.
- Air conditioning in the room reduces the humidity and our eyes easily get dry.
We should follow the 20-20-20 rule when working on a screen- every 20 minutes, take a break of 20 seconds and look at least 20 feet away to relax the eye muscles. We should make a conscious effort to blink more frequently while using our gadgets. Each blink replenishes the tear film of the eye and keeps it wet. Additionally, if we have to work for long hours, we should use some preservative free lubricating eye drops to keep our eyes moist. If we wish to reduce our dependence on spectacles, we can prefer more advanced techniques like SMILE which do not aggravate the dryness in our eyes.
Studies have proven that children who spend more time on screens and less in outdoor activities have an increase chance of needing corrective glasses. It is not uncommon to see toddlers spending hours in front of a mobile phone or television. The effects of these are becoming clear as we are seeing a generation of children wearing glasses. Limiting the screen time and increasing out-door activities is very important if we have to reverse this trend. Should the child already have glasses, the progression can be slowed down by limiting screen time. Some eye drops also help in slowing progression of eye power in children.
Food plays an important role in maintaining eye health. Fast foods, alcohol, tobacco and preserved food cause increased oxidative damage to the eye leading to retinal problems and dry eye syndrome. Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to be useful in treating dry eye syndrome. It is found in large quantities in flax seeds, walnuts and fish. The retina is especially benefitted by having more spinach and green leafy vegetables, vitamin A (carrots, spinach) and vitamin C (amla, guavas, oranges) on a regular basis. Additionally using ultraviolet protective shades can protect our eyes in the sun.
If we all wore protective eye glasses during fesitivals like Diwali and Holi, many eye injuries could be prevented. Often we see that it is not the person playing with the crackers or throwing chemical laden water but the bystander that gets injured and unfortunately it is more commonly a child. These injuries can sometimes lead to loss of the eye. One should totally discourage the playing with bows and arrow to prevent eye injuries.
Regular eye checkups are essential at all ages. A new born child has very poor vision and this develops in the first few years of life. A child who does not see well from one eye will not notice or complain as he manages well with the other eye. Treatment is effective only when done in childhood – thus every child should have an eye check-up before school going age. Many eye disorders like glaucoma have no symptoms. By the time one realizes the illness, it is often too late and easily preventable permanent vision loss has already happened. Many new technologies allow us to diagnose illnesses at very early stages.
Advancement in eye care technology now enables one to get rid of glasses at any age. Patients needing glasses for reading and also for near can see well and also read well after the treatment. Such treatments when done from well-equipped centers with well-trained doctors can be quite gratifying. A cornea specialist can let you know if you are a good candidate for a SMILE or presbyopic LASIK. Two of ten people typically coming for spectacle removal treatment are actually not good candidates and should be refused treatment, so first undergo an evaluation to see if the procedure is 100% safe for you.
Last but not least, yoga and meditation increase the antioxidant levels in the body and give us deep rest, good sleep and rejuvenate the body. They are definitely beneficial for our eyes.