20 January 2019 (Dubai – United Arab Emirates): Many of us make health and wellness a priority at the start of a new year but we may not always think about the health of our eyes. Lifestyle choices and habits influence the health of the body generally, including the eyes. Younger and older members of the family are especially vulnerable to eye conditions, along with people living with diabetes and the potentially serious eye complications of the disease.
Good lifestyle choices – exercise, nutrition, hydration, sun protection, and regular check ups (especially for older and younger members of the family) are at the heart of good eye health and the eye consultants at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai have compiled a list of their top 5 tips for healthy eyes in 2019.
1. Don’t smoke
This is a regular favourite new year resolution for many people and it is especially important for eye health – smoking is one of the most harmful habits for the eyes. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, smoking causes harm to the tissues of the eye. Research has confirmed the harmful effects of smoking on eyesight, particularly in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of sight loss. Smokers double their risk of developing AMD, and tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers. Smoking is also linked to the development of cataracts, and can make diabetes-related sight problems worse. Passive smoking is almost as harmful as first hand smoking.
2. Healthy lifestyle choices
A healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise improves overall health and protects some people against diabetes and other diseases, which can damage sight. A vitamin-rich diet including citrus fruit and green vegetables is a positive lifestyle choice; extra emphasis on nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E is good for the eyes and might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and delay cataracts, studies show. Try to stay hydrated and drink around 2 litres of water each day or more depending on your level of physical activity. Remember that air conditioning dehydrates and both AC and dehydration could lead to or exacerbate dryness of the eyes.
3. Screening for diabetic eye disease
For people with a particular need to take special care of their eyes – for example people with diabetes – regular and frequent eye screening is essential because of the greater risk of potentially serious eye complications. Many people with diabetes have no symptoms until the eye disease is advanced; this is why screening is so important and why we strongly advise the community to have regular eye checks. At a minimum, this should be an annual check up and ideally even more frequently.
4. Active eye protection – indoors / outdoors
Sun protection: In a hot and dusty climate like the UAE, protecting the eyes with good quality sunglasses with polarised lenses and a hat with a brim, is a sensible precaution.
Screens: If you spend a lot of time at the computer or any other electronic device or reading, try to take a break every 20-30 minutes to reduce eyestrain and dryness of the eyes.
5. Regular checkups for all the family
Children need eye tests: most causes of poor vision in children are easily correctable if they are picked up and treated in time, from birth until about the age of 7, so checking the eyes regularly (every year) during this period is important. Healthy adults should have a sight test every two years. Older eyes need more care: there is an increasing risk of eye disorders with age and for the over 40s, we recommend annual eye check-ups.
Dr Luisa Sastre, Specialist Ophthalmologist in Medical Retina at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, says: “We often take our eyes and vision for granted until we have a problem and it is much better to pick up any potential abnormalities or health issues before they become serious. This is why regular screening is so important and especially for younger children and people with diabetes, who face special risks to their eyesight. We hope these tips help the community enjoy healthy vision in 2019.”
Moorfields Dubai is currently offering special rates on LASIK surgery, using advanced technology and with expert consultant surgeons specialising in Cataract, Cornea and Refractive Vision Correction Surgery. For more details and to book an appointment, visit https://www.moorfields.ae/dubai/lasik/.