health

'Watch where you put your eyeliner': 9 things an optometrist wants you to know.

If you're a dame with a set of eyes in your face, chances are this is one area of your health you kinda neglect. Like you know it's 100 per cent important, but... you just never get around to seeing the optometrist and all that kinda stuff.

And we get it! Gosh, we get it. We're exactly the same. Your eyesight is one of those things that you just just pretty much ignore until it's not working right.

Watch: Too much screen time hurting your eyes? Here's what you can do. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

So, if you're looking to change your ways and learn what you should be doing in order to keep your eyes in good health and know how to protect 'em, we've got you covered.

We asked optometrist Greeshma Patel from Specsavers, to tell us some of the most important things we need to know about our eye health.

So, grab your glasses. You got some readin' to do.

1. If your eyes are irritated, they're probably dry.

Anyone else rubbing their itchy eyes like crazy? Or catching a glimpse of yourself midday to find you've got yourself one cute bloodshot eye? 

Is... is something wrong?

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If you're wondering what the go is ('cos, same), apparently these kinds of symptoms are super common around winter and spring - and it's usually not anything to worry about. 

"Some common eye issues we may be experiencing, especially at this time of year, could be dry eyes from the cold weather," explains Patel. "It’s also coming up to spring, which can mean allergies and hay fever."  

We're talkin' things like:  

  • Itchiness  

  • Redness  

  • Watering eyes  

  • Headaches  

  • Sore eyes  

  • Tired eyes  

"Most causes of irritated eyes won’t usually result in serious complications, rather mild discomfort."

Phew!

However, Patel said that symptoms like blurriness, red eyes, itchiness or seeing haloes can also be an indication of something more serious.

"More severe reactions can cause changes in your vision that can significantly alter your ability to perform basic tasks which may become hazardous, such as driving. More permanent damage can occur to the eye if the problem is unresolved."

Oh. 

"It’s always important to consult an optometrist if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, and changes to your vision. It could be something as common as conjunctivitis or allergies, to something more sinister."

Okay, gotcha.

2. Pay attention to any unusual symptoms.

Dry, irritated eyes are one thing, but if you're experiencing anything out of the ordinary, make sure you get on top of it early, yeah? 

"Any sudden abnormalities in your eyesight should be treated or examined immediately." According to Patel, more worrisome symptoms could include things like: 

  • Seeing spots in your vision 

  • Vision loss 

  • Flashes of light in your vision 

  • Blurred vision 

  • Headaches or migraines  

  • Double vision 

  • Sensitivity to light  

So, yeah. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it's important to consult a professional immediately and suss out what's going on. Because the longer you leave things, the worse it can get.

3. Check your family history.

Chances are you have no idea what your family history is like when it comes to eye health. I mean, I don't have a clue. But apparently it's actually really important to find out - because a lot of sight-threatening issues are actually genetic.

"Another very important thing is to be aware of your family history when it comes to eye health," said Patel. "There is growing evidence that some of the most common vision problems among children and adults are genetically determined." 

"For example, this includes strabismus (an ocular misalignment sometimes referred to as crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and refractive errors such as myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism."

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Patel said this also applies to more serious, potentially sight-threatening eye conditions, if not properly managed. 

"For example, people with a direct family history of macular degeneration have a 50 per cent increased risk of developing the condition," she said.

"People with a direct family history of glaucoma have a 25 per cent chance of developing the condition. Most people (52 per cent) are not aware that some eye conditions (like glaucoma and AMD) that can lead to vision loss or blindness, are hereditary."

4. Be careful with tap water.

W-wo-woah! Maybe don't rinse your eyes out with water. Apparently it's really not great for your eyes?

Hard no.

"If you are a contact lens wearer, you would have been told not to use tap water to clean your lenses or contact lens case. This is because of the risk of developing a very dangerous infection," explains Patel.

"If your eyes need moisture, it is best to use sterile artificial tear drops, rather than tap water. Otherwise cleaning the eyelids with water is absolutely fine." 

5. Watch where you put your eyeliner.

If you regularly slink around TikTok, chances are you would've come across this little slice of horror:

@bettervision

Why not to wear eyeliner on your waterline. #eyeliner #eyehealth #dryeye #eyes #meexplaining #optometrist #MGD #PepsiApplePieChallenge

♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

Isn't it... terrifying? 

So, what's the go here? Can wearing eyeliner on your waterline on the regular *really* clog the glands on your waterline?

"It is important with eyeliner or any eye makeup that you are making sure it is all washed off your eye before you go to sleep. By leaving it on, you clog the small glands along your eyelids, which can cause redness, swelling, irritation and infections. In some cases, this can lead to blurred vision or persistent infections."

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Yikes! 

"Mascara wand and eyeliner injuries to the eye are also incredibly common, so be careful with application!"

6. Get regular check-ups.

When was the last time you saw an optometrist or eye doctor? Regular check-ups are super important to make sure you keep your eyes healthy - so don't let it slip.

"It is so important that people are attending eye tests regularly," said Dr Patel. "We can monitor your eye health and offer any advice or treatment plans much easier if you keep up regular appointments."

"There are some eye conditions that have little to no signs or symptoms for the average individual which can mean if left untreated, can lead to vision loss or blindness. Vision loss is preventable in 90 per cent of Australians, so please get your eyes checked regularly!"

High five for you, friend.

If you're wondering just how regularly you should make a trip to the optometrist, Patel said that for most people, having an eye test every two years is recommended. 

"However, it's best to attend earlier if any eye problems occur or if advised by your optometrist," she adds.

7. Give your eyes a break. 

Whether you're in lockdown and working from home, or back in the office, chances are you're spending way too much time in front of your computer. 

It's hard because we have to, like, work... but making sure you give your poor little eyes a break is more important than you might think.

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"During lockdown, as we are spending so much time on screens, we have the potential to develop digital eye strain," said Patel. 

"Because your office space could be different to your home office space, try to ensure that your setup is similar – adjust the lighting, ensure your screen is in the right position for your eye level and take regular breaks."

Take a break, boo. Take a break.

"Symptoms of digital eye strain can include tired, sore, burning and/or itchy eyes, watery or dry eyes, headaches, trouble focusing on the screen or further, increased sensitivity to light and blurry or double vision," said Patel.

Coolcoolcoolcool.

According to Patel, there are a couple of simple things you can do every day to prevent these symptoms and ease digital eye strain.

1. Remember to blink.

Might sound silly, but chances are you're not doing it enough. No, really!

"This keeps the surface of your eyes from getting dry. Keep a bottle of water next to your computer," said Patel. "Your eyes become dry when you’re dehydrated, so making sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day!"

2. Follow the “20-20-20” rule.

"This means, every 20 minutes shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 metres away, for at least 20 seconds," said Patel.

"The easiest way to do this is to take small ‘window’ breaks and to look out at a faraway object to give your eyes a break from the screen."

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3. Adjust your screen.

Patel said another easy way to avoid strain on your eyes is to adjust the brightness and contrast of your screen to match the level of light around yourself. "Try increasing the contrast on your screen to reduce eye strain." 

4. Consider your seating position.

And last but not least - the old ergonomics. 

"Adjust your position at the computer. When using a computer, you should be sitting no closer than 60cm (about at arm's length) from the screen. Position the screen so your eyes gaze slightly downward, not straight ahead or up." 

8. What you eat can impact your eye health.

Here's one for you: The condition of your eyes often says a lot about your diet.

"As a first point of call, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise will ensure overall health benefits including that of your eyes," said Patel. 

"This includes remembering to drink lots of water. Your eyes also become dry when you’re dehydrated so keep your fluids intake up."

When it comes to vitamins or supplements for eye health, Patel said there is some early stage research suggesting vitamins A, B9, C and E (all of which are antioxidants), may prevent age-related eye disorders. 

Interesting!

"There is also some research indicating that antioxidant therapy could play an important role in optimising treatment for ocular inflammatory diseases," she adds.

9. Yes, you need to protect your eyes from the sun.

So, you have the whole sun protection thing down pat when it comes to your skin - go you! 

But... what about your eyes? 

Um..

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"As we go into the warmer months, there are also some things we can be doing to protect our eyes," said Patel.

"Exposure to the sun can cause significant damage to the eyes, and in more extreme cases can cause conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancers."

Yep. No good. If you're wondering how to save your eyes from sun damage, get yourself some UV protection sunglasses. And *actually* wear them. Like, for real.

"The same way you would put on sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin and body, you should be wearing UV filtering sunglasses to protect your eyes."

"For the best kind of protection, buy sunglasses that have polarised lenses as they provide superior vision in bright light, by eliminating 99.9% of horizontal glare, while also providing 100 per cent UV protection."

You can also apply sunscreen on your eyelids and around your eyes. Sunscreens like Mesoestetic Mesoprotech Sun Stick, $49.80, are great for using around your eye area.

"While the eyelid is designed to protect the eye, the skin is very thin and contains fragile tissues that can be damaged by UV light. It is important to make sure you apply sunscreen to your eyelids and reapply it every two hours."

Patel also recommends wearing a broad-brimmed hat, and to be mindful of the amount of time you spend in the sun.

Do you get your eyes checked on the reg? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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