Keeping Our Eyes Healthy | Sight Saving Month

Published on: 24/08/2021

As one of our most important senses, we shouldn't take our vision for granted. Find out how to protect the eyes as we celebrate Sight Saving Month this August.

As human beings, our eyesight is one of our most important senses — it accounts for 80% of what we perceive. Research studies further say vision is responsible for up to 85% not just of our perception, but of our learning, cognition, and other activities as well.

Therefore, due to its importance, we must take extra care to protect this valuable sense of sight. By protecting your eyes, we can lower the chances of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma.

With the aim to emphasize the significance of protecting and caring for the eyes, we celebrate Sight Saving Month in our country this August. This celebration also aims to educate the public about available vision restoration techniques and the importance of organ donation.

Global & Local Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from near or distance vision. According to their report, about one billion, or nearly half of these cases could have been avoided or are still unaddressed. Cataracts and uncorrected refractive errors are found to be the major causes of visual impairment and blindness.

In the Philippines, the estimated number of people who are bilaterally blind in 2017 exceeds 300,000. Those cases due to cataracts account for 33%, errors of refraction accounting for 25%, and glaucoma accounting for 14%. Other eye disorders such as glaucoma, retinopathy, and maculopathy account for the rest. In addition to these figures, there were reportedly more than two million people with bilateral low vision.

How to Take Care of Your Eyes

Follow these basic guidelines to keep your eyes healthy:

Eat a healthy diet 

Good eye health begins with what you eat. Also, a well-balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight. This reduces your risk of obesity and related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, the leading cause of adult blindness.

Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, lutein, and vitamins C and E may help prevent age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. To obtain them, load your plate with spinach, kale, tuna, salmon, beans, legumes and drink citrus fruit juices.

Wear sunglasses and protective eyewear

Excessive UV exposure increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. 

A good pair of sunglasses will shield your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Select sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound lenses provide additional protection for your eyes from the side. Polarized lenses may reduce glare while driving but do not always provide additional protection. If you wear contact lenses, choose certain brands that provide UV protection. It would still be prudent to wear sunglasses as an additional layer of protection.

If you work with hazardous or airborne materials, wear safety glasses or protective goggles, even if you work at home. Note also that certain sports like ice hockey, racquetball, and lacrosse can result in eye injury. Make sure that you protect your eyes with face masks or by sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Limit your screen time

Avoid staring at a computer or phone screen for an extended period of time. Doing so can cause a number of eye health problems, including eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, and trouble focusing at a distance. 

You can protect your eyes by checking whether your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and suitable for computer use. Adjust the screen so that your eyes are level with the top of your computer monitor. This allows you to look down at the screen slightly. Try to blink more or use artificial tears if your eyes are dry.

Make sure also to give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you are working continuously, a 15-minute break every 2 hours would be best.

Watch out for symptoms of eye problems

Even if the symptoms are just temporary, you should contact an eye doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing redness and pain in your eye, partial or total vision loss, double vision, blind spots, trouble differentiating colors, or other forms of eye injury. 

You should also schedule a visit with a physician soon if you are having difficulty seeing or reading at night, experiencing itching or discharge from your eye, or when you notice that objects appear less sharp.

See your doctor regularly

Everyone should have their eyes checked regularly. Eye exams can detect disorders that have no symptoms, such as glaucoma. It's critical to recognize these early when they're easier to cure.

You can see one of two types of doctors, depending on your eye health needs. Ophthalmologists are those who specialize in the treatment of the eyes. They can provide regular eye care, diagnose and treat eye illnesses, as well as perform surgery on the eyes. Meanwhile, optometrists offer general eye care and can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, but they do not perform eye surgery.