Show your eyes some love this Valentines

An optometrist’s tips for keeping your eye health in shape

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With Valentine’s Day hastily approaching, many of us are most likely to be more focused on heart-shaped confectionary and romantic getaways than on our eye health.

However, if you want to make sure that you can see your significant other as clearly as on the day you met; then it’s vital that you also love, and take good care of, your eyes.

With this in mind, below are some great ways you can take care of your vision throughout 2022 and help protect your eyes throughout your life.

Stop smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the healthiest lifestyle changes you can make, and most optometrists like me also rank it as the single most important thing you can do to protect your vision.

Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eyes, and several other ocular conditions are all far more prevalent among smokers. So, if you’re thinking about quitting, remember that stopping smoking will do wonders for your eye health as well.

For more information see the smoking and eye health page.

Talk to your family about eye health

Some eye conditions, like glaucoma, run in families – so it’s important to understand the risk factors. Make some time to have a conversation with your relatives about eye health. It will help determine your hereditary risk so you can relay this information to your optometrist at your next appointment.

Keep washing your hands

Practising healthy hand hygiene isn’t just helpful in the fight against COVID-19, it’s vital in avoiding nasty eye infections too. If you’re a contact lens user, this is especially important – always ensure your hands are clean before handling your lenses or touching anywhere near your eye.

Clean out your make-up bag

It’s not an obvious one but old, dirty cosmetics can become a breeding ground for all types of germs. For products that come near your eyes, such as eyeliner and mascara, this can be especially problematic.

Always check the recommended period after opening (or POA) symbol on your cosmetic products, if there is one. It should have a guideline time (usually 24, 12, or 6 months) of use before it should be discarded.

More obvious perhaps: sharing your eye makeup is never a good idea if you want to avoid infection.

Eat healthily

Eating a balanced, healthy diet is important for your whole body – but it also reduces your risk of eye disease. Things like Omega-3 fats, found in oily fish, and lutein, found in leafy vegetables such as spinach, all contribute to maintaining good eye health.

If you have a family history of macular degeneration, you may also want to ask your optometrist about taking nutritional supplements.

See your optometrist

And finally, last but not least, the best way to take care of your eyes and the one thing I’d always recommend is this: book a sight test.

You should aim to have a sight test at least every two years, or more often if recommended. A sight test does not only assess your vision but can detect signs of underlying health conditions. Once identified, your optometrist can refer you to the right place for treatment.

If you want more help around caring for your eyes, visit our top tips for healthy eyes page.

Ceri Smith-JaynesCeri Smith-Jaynes is OT’s multimedia clinical editor and is an optometrist in independent practice in Lancashire