Y looks at why it’s so important to take good care of our eyes to ensure we experience life to the fullest
If you’re like many people the world over, when it comes to your regular healthcare regime, your eyes get overlooked. In fact, you may only pay attention to your eye health when something goes wrong, whereas actually, preventive and routine eye care should be high on everyone’s list of priorities.
“Too many people fail to grasp the value of routine vision care, only seeking treatment for eye-related problems after they occur,” says Stephen Shawler, president of Essilor Vision Foundation. “Although 80 per cent of vision problems are preventable, we still have significant work to do to prevent vision problems before they start.”
Impact of poor vision
Clear vision is a crucial tool in experiencing life to its fullest potential, but, according to Essilor, an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide see poorly and don’t possess adequate access to vision correction.
From an economic perspective, the France-based Vision Impact Institute (VII) estimates as much as US$745 million (RO286.86m) in productivity is lost every single day as a result of uncorrected vision problems in 33 per cent of the world’s working population.
With World Sight Day celebrated just last week, extensive social consequences have come to light. According to the VII, some 30 per cent of the world’s children experience vision problems that have a significant impact on their long-term health, school performance and emotional and social development. Given that 80 per cent of children’s learning is through visual information processing, poor vision can hinder not only their academic performance, but also how they interact with peers and integrate into society.
Beyond the economic and social consequences, ignoring eye health can also have disastrous outcomes in other areas. For example, elderly individuals with poor vision are seven times more at risk for falls and hip fractures, while poor sight is linked to 59 per cent of road accidents.
Eye health by the numbers
From a medical standpoint, eye exams do more than correct vision problems. They can also help detect conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, multiple sclerosis, strokes, hypertension and eye tumors.
Anna Gardiner, a media specialist based in Muscat, agrees that eye health is important. And coming from Australia, she is also aware of other health problems that can be detected via regular check-ups.
However, she says local optometrists don’t appear to check for other health problems, such as diabetes or even high cholesterol.
“Whenever I have had my eyes checked here and in the UAE, it is only ever about what I can and can’t see. I am not even sure if they are trained to look for other things.
“My brother, who lives in the UK, was alerted to the fact that he had high cholesterol when he went for an eye check. It is amazing what optometrists can do these days and it would be great to see that here as well. Early detection is vital and would go a long way in helping to optimise the medical industry here.”
To minimise the risks associated with poor eye sight the experts at Essilor recommend knowing the numbers that add up to healthy eyes:
1 : Adults should have one comprehensive eye exam every year. For kids, don’t settle for the vision screenings at school; schedule a annual exam with an eye doctor.
3 : If you wear contact lenses, you can prevent the risk of bacteria and infection by replacing your lens storage case once every three months.
20 : Staring at a computer monitor for too long can fatigue the eyes, leading to painful side effects like dry eyes and even headaches. Every 20 minutes, look away for about 20 seconds at a space 20 feet (six metres) away from you. This simple trick can reduce eye strain and help you safely refocus.
25 : Age-related macular degeneration is a serious eye condition that affects the elderly, causing visual impairment, damage to the retina and even blindness. Taking zinc supplements in addition to antioxidant vitamins can reduce your risk by up to 25 per cent.
90 : When selecting sunglasses, find a pair that not only blocks out invisible ultraviolet light, but also blocks up to 90 per cent of visible light.
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