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Keeping an ’Eye’ on Health

"Don’t take eye and vision health for granted. Make the firm commitment to keep your eyes healthy with proper eye care."
By: Jose Maria M. Villarama IIKeeping an ’Eye’ on Health

Every year, during their company’s annual physical exam, Niko would skip the routine exam with the ophthalmologist, thinking it was just a ploy to have him use his optical allowance, which he preferred to get in cash.  He had been doing this for three years, until he experienced a problem with his eyesight.  Initially, he thought his blurred vision while driving at night was simply due tositting in front of the computer for long periods of time.  But an inevitable trip to the ophthalmologist revealed what he has long been avoiding --- eyeglasses.

Like Niko, many take eye and vision health for granted.  The general attitude is that if there is nothing wrong with one’s eyes, there is no need to fix them.  But, just like any other disease, one should not wait for the situation to get worse before seeing a doctor.  Of course, having a regular eye check-up is the only way to ensure the health of one’s eyes.

Seeing red (flags)

Before going to the doctor, however, it would be good to know one’s family history as a predisposition to certain diseases.  Knowing if one is at a risk of acquiring a genetic disorder or developing diseases that cause vision problems will aid the doctor inmapping out a plan to help prevent the deterioration of one’s eyes and vision. Asking for a thorough eye examination, such as a dilated eye exam, is important to detect certain eye conditions such as glaucoma, to prevent vision loss.  Identifying“red flags” will also help one avoid practices or habits that can aggravate eye problems.

Preventive measures

Meanwhile, for those who do not have the benefit of having company-initiated or regular eye exams, keeping the eyes healthy need not be a burden. The following are waysof maintaining eye health:

·  Eating a proper diet – A well-balanced diet is always necessary for preserving the proper health of one’s eyes.  Food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc and vitamins A &C will help in preventing vision problems related to aging.  Dark green leafy vegetables, dark berries, and fish are only some of the rich sources of such nutrients. Watching one’s weight to avert diabetes, which causes blindness in adults, and poor blood circulation is also important.

· Quitting cigarettes – Smoking causes a myriad of health concerns which include cataracts, nerve damage, and macular degeneration.

· Blocking harmful rays and substances – Inasmuch as one exerts a conscious effort to use sunblock to protect one’s skin from the sun’s harmful rays, one should also make it point to wear eyeglasses that block at least 99% of harmful UVA and UVB rays. Polycarbonate goggles should also be worn when one is at risk of being exposed to harmful substances or being injured due to one’s work or physical activities. 

· Eliminating irritants – Dog and cat hair usually cause irritation to the eyes.  Maintaining clean surroundings at home, particularly beddings, will help prevent diseases caused by such eye irritants. When one accidentally douses eyes with chemicals such as soap or shampoo, flushing the eyes continually with water or saline for 10 to 15 minutes is the proper first aid procedure to follow.

· Taking a break from the computer –Looking at the computer monitor for prolonged periods not only causes headaches and stiff necks but eye strain and blurred vision as well.  Looking away about 20 feet every 20 minutes for 20 seconds is a good exercise. This is conveniently known as the 20-20-20 rule.  Blinking frequently also helps to refresh the eyes.

· Keeping the eyes hydrated – Dry air, especially in controlled environments such as airplane cabins, can cause eye irritation.  Using over-the-counter eye drops, as necessary, will keep the eyes well-moistened. Curiously, drinking coffee has been found to be beneficial in terms of keeping the eyes hydrate by producing more tears.  Two cups a day should be enough.  Drinking too much will cause dehydration.

· Ensuring correct eye grade –Aside from wearing glasses or contact lenses that are prescribed by doctors,one should keepthem correct and up to date to prevent further deterioration of one’s vision.

· Clean hands, glasses, & lenses properly –As a general rule, eyes should not be touched or rubbed.  But when it is absolutely necessary to so (such as when removing contact lenses), one should make sure that hands are clean to avoid getting eye infections.

It goes without saying that one must make a firm commitment to keep the eyes healthy.  Inasmuch as one exercises to keep the muscles toned and the cardiovascular system in top working condition, one must make it a routine, if not second nature, to ensure the well-being of one’s eyes. 


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