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Back to School Eye Exams

The back to school season brings a flurry of emotions for parents of school aged children. We all know that kids grow quickly, which often means its time a new uniform as well as stationery, books and a long list of other back to school equipment. But there’s one area in particular that often gets neglected – their eyes.

 

As school recommences in 2022, it is important to get your child’s eyes examined.  Approximately 20% of children in Australia suffer from a vision problem and worse yet, children often think that what they see is normal so they are unlikely to flag any issues with teachers or parents.

 

Vision problems can significantly affect learning with a recent Australian study of Year 3 children finding that those who were screened and identified as requiring glasses scored considerably lower in their NAPLAN relative to their peers.

 

Children of any age can have their eyes examined but it’s highly recommended that children starting kindergarten see their local optometrist to ensure they are getting the very best start to their schooling life.

Common signs of possible vision problems to look out for include:

  • Frequent squinting
  • Eye rubbing
  • Eye turn
  • Holding reading materials very close to their eyes

 

It’s equally important for parents to bring their children in for regular follow up eye examinations if they are already in glasses so that we can identify any changes to their script and make adjustments accordingly.

 

You can book an appointment with our practice today to ensure your child’s eye health.

Until Feb 28, 2022 - get $150 off when you buy two pairs of kids glasses.*

*Redeemable with the purchase of two complete sets of frames and lenses until Monday February 28, 2022. Not to be used in conjunction with any other discounts, packages or offers. Not redeemable on contact lenses. Valid once per patient only.


10 Foods to Assist Your Vision

Eating the right foods can protect your vision and keep you healthy. Adding vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to your diet can improve your overall eye health. Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.1 You can find these antioxidants in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and a lot of other foods.

Here are the top 10 foods that will boost your eye health.1, 2

Carrots

The hype is true, carrots are good for your eyes. These crunchy root vegetables are a great source of vitamin A, which is important for keeping your cornea clear. Carrots get their bright orange colour from beta carotene, which is essential for vitamin A production in the body.  Other foods rich in beta carotene include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes, apricots and rockmelon (and any other bright yellow or orange fruits and veggies you can get your hands on).

Fish

Fish is a very good source of omega-3, which is an important nutrient for eye health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid which are essential for your body to produce new cells, muscles, nerves and organs, as well as having potent anti-inflammatory properties. They benefit our eye by nourishing the retina and aid tear production to keep the eyes moist and healthy, reducing dry eye syndrome.

Leafy green vegetables

Easy to digest, easy to include into every meal, and readily available, leafy greens are great not just for your eyes, but for your overall health. The darker the green, the better they are for you.  Leafy greens such as kale, spinach and green veggies are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for keeping your retina healthy. Broccoli, avocados and peas are also good sources of this powerful combination of antioxidants.

Berries and Citrus fruits

Oranges, lemons, red capsicum and berries are high in Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. Vitamin C also promotes healthy bones, skin and blood vessels, including the delicate capillaries in the retina.

Legumes and Pulses

Legumes are plants, pods and seeds that belong to the Fabaceae family. They refer to foods like peas and beans, such as green beans and broad beans. Pulses are dried legumes. They include chickpeas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and lentils. Not only are legumes and pulses a protein powerhouse and an excellent source of fibre, they are also full of omega-3.

Nuts

Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whichever take your fancy, are excellent sources of Vitamin E and minerals such as zinc that help keep your eyes healthy and may decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Seeds

Like nuts and legumes, seeds are high in omega-3s and are a rich source of vitamin E to help fight age-related eye health issues. Seeds such as chia seeds, pepitas, flaxseed, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds will help protect your retina.

Extra-virgin olive oil

The queen of oils, extra virgin olive oil can help your body absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, those all-important carotenoids that are vital for good eye health.

Eggs

Two of the most powerful antioxidants for eye protection, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found generously in egg yolks, just like in leafy green vegetables. When you have them in your omelette, you’re increasing your chances of antioxidant absorption because of the high-fat content of eggs. You also get ample vitamin C and E in the egg yolk, which are believed to be helpful against macular degeneration.

Lean Meat

Protein from lean meats such as beef, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey etc) or pork can be beneficial to your eyesight.  Beef is rich in vitamin A and zinc, both of which are beneficial to your cornea and your retina. Poultry and pork are also good sources of zinc.

 

As well as adding these 10 superfoods to your diet, you should also consider piling your plate with plenty of other fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to get your two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. The more colourful your cuisine gets, the better it will be for your eye health. As an added bonus, your overall health will benefit too.

 

References

1. American Optometric Association , “Diet and Nutrition,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y.

2. L. Arundel, “Top foods that can improve your eye health,” Good Vision For Life, 2016. [Online]. Available: https://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2016/08/04/top-ten-foods-can-improve-eye-health/


What is blue light and do we need to protect our eyes from it?

Last year saw an influx of new buzzwords. COVID-19 ruled, of course, but it was in good company with ‘pivot’, ‘new normal’, ‘zoom’ and ‘social distance’. Equally buzz-worthy and a concept that may have hit your radar at a similar time are blue light filtering glasses. Since these are the only buzzworthy concepts from the aforementioned list that we can speak of with authority, let’s take a look into what exactly blue light is and why it’s causing such a stir.

What is blue light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum – it’s the light we can physically see whereas ultraviolet (UV) and infrared light are outside the visible light spectrum. Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. These waves range in length and strength and emit energy. The length of these waves is measured in nanometres (nm) with 1 nanometre equalling 1 billionth of a metre.

Blue light comes from both natural and artificial sources. Sunlight is a natural source, while the blue light emitted from digital screens, electronic devices and LED lights is artificial. Blue light has a very short wavelength and as a result produces more energy. Studies suggest that long term exposure to blue light may damage your eyes.

How does blue light affect us?

Sunlight is the main source of blue light and is everywhere. Our bodies use blue light to regulate our natural sleep cycles, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. Our mood, level of alertness and overall wellbeing can be aided by natural blue light.

Blue light waves are the shortest, highest energy wavelengths of the visible light spectrum, in turn meaning they can potentially damage the internal structures of the eyes such as the retina and macula. Children are particularly susceptible to these damaging effects since the young eye is less able to filter blue light.

Blue light and ARMD

Clinical studies suggest that exposure to High Energy Visible (HEV) blue light can be a risk factor for macular degeneration.

Age and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and smoking are even greater risk factors for the development of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

Digital eye strain

Blue light is believed to be responsible for digital eye strain. Flickering blue light from digital screens creates glare and impacts visual clarity, contrast and sharpness. Blue light has also been implicated in migraines.

Today, we have a plethora of electronic gadgets to keep us connected with friends, family and colleagues, not to mention entertain ourselves (Netflix anyone?). Unfortunately, one of the by-products of this use of technology, is the amount of time we are spending staring at digital screens, often excessive.

Sadly, it’s not just adults that are affected. Children are increasingly using digital devices to play, read and even do schoolwork. This combination of more screen time and less “green time” (time spent outdoors in nature and natural light) can harm children’s vision and puts them at risk of developing myopia or near-sightedness.

There are certain factors when it comes to reducing the risks for children developing myopia that are within parents’ control, the main one being keeping screen time to a minimum. The World Health Organization (WHO) released daily screen guidelines for young children in April 2019. They recommend infants (less than 1 year old) should not have any screen time while those aged 2-5 should have no more than 1 hour of screen time per day. The American Academy of Paediatrics goes on to suggest that children over the age of 5 and into teenage years, don’t need a specific time limit put in place so long as digital consumption doesn’t interfere with physical activity and sleep.

To help parents/ carers, we’ve put together our top 5 suggestions to help minimise screen time and reduce digital eye strain.

5 tips for parents dealing with increased screen time
  • Choose wisely – make a point to check up on what your kids are watching or playing. Children don’t always know what’s appropriate for their age and it’s easy for them to lose track of time. There’s a host of apps available to help you monitor your child’s viewing habits so consider these if necessary.
  • No screen time before bed and keep devices out of the bedrooms at night.
  • Make time for media with your kids but don’t forget reading. Reading to your child promotes bonding and prepares them for learning.
  • Practice what you preach. Kids are very good at observing those around them so be mindful of how much time you personally spend on devices. Make a point to schedule downtime and allocate time for chores, outdoor time, reading and homework.
  • Consider blue light filtering lenses such as TechShield Blue (even if you’re not a prescription glasses wearer) as they assist in reducing the amount of blue light penetrating the eye.