WORLD RETINA WEEK 

20 – 26 SEPTEMBER 2021

DO YOU LOVE YOUR EYES

During World Retina Week, Retina South Africa would like to encourage South Africans who love their eyes, to take an active role in caring for their vision.
There are 10 easy steps that people can take to preserve their precious sight.

STEP 1: HAVE REGULAR EYE CHECKS

An eye specialist can pick up early signs of developing problems. If not detected and treated, many of these problems may lead to permanent eye damage. Conditions like Glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and cataracts will respond to early intervention.

STEP 2: STUB OUT YOUR CIGARETTE AND NOT YOUR VISION
Smoking damages all the blood vessels and the tiny, fragile vessels in the retina are very easily damaged. Smoking also increases oxidative stress and again the retina at the back of the eye is very easily affected.

STEP 3: GET MORE THAN 7 HOURS SLEEP A NIGHT
During deep sleep the inner discs of the photoreceptors in the retina are rejuvenated; short term memories are converted to long term memories and the brain does a deep cleansing of itself to get rid of waste products.

STEP 4: CONTROL BLOOD PRESSURE, CHOLESTEROL, TUMMY FAT AND BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
One of the biggest problems in SA today is the alarming increase in the number of people developing obesity and diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 12.8% of our population has diabetes. This means that a staggering 4 million people are at risk for Cardio-vascular disease, limb amputation and blindness. Of these, 20% already have retinal damage at diagnosis and are only aware of vision loss when it is too late. Often the last sign of trouble is a raised blood glucose level. The earliest sign of problems is tummy fat and anyone who has a waist measurement larger than the hips should take immediate steps to reverse this.

STEP 5: EXERCISE REGULARLY
Regular exercise is essential for blood flow, the more you exercise the better the blood flows in the body.  Insulin that moves the glucose from the blood vessels to the muscles depends on exercise. Better exercise means better use of glucose in the body, and less risk of insulin build-up that causes damage to nerves, blood vessels and eyes.

STEP 6: EAT A HEALTHY, COLOURFUL DIET
Our favourite South African brown and white diet can cause damage to the blood vessels. We need a colourful diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants that can neutralise the potential damage from too much red meat and refined carbohydrates. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and herbs contain antioxidants that are particularly beneficial to the eyes. Avoid dangerous fats such as saturated or trans fats. Healthy fats are found in olives, olive oil, fish, avocado, nuts or canola oil. Avoid overheating fat when cooking, fats and oils that have changed colour are dangerous.

STEP 7: PROTECT YOUR EYES AGAINST SUNLIGHT AND EXCESSIVE SCREEN TIME
Although some sunlight is essential for Vitamin D which is needed by every cell in our bodies, overexposure causes skin and retinal damage. Blue light that is emitted from TVs, Computers and Devices can also damage the eyes. Wear a hat and protective lenses when out in the sun and limit screen time – especially for children. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes to a distance of 20 meters for a least 20 seconds, and then blink 20 times. This changes your focus and lubricates the eyes.

STEP 8: CONTROL YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Uncontrolled stress has a major effect on the body affecting blood pressure, sleep and even your gut micro-biome. All of these can affect your vision.

STEP 9: HAVE A HEALTHY SOCIAL LIFE
We know that Covid and social distancing is making this very difficult.  For older people discuss any health problems, including vision problems with your friends and family. Reach out to people, do not isolate yourself.

STEP 10: ONLY BELIEVE INFORMATION FROM REPUTABLE WEBSITES
“Dr Google” is not always right. Ignore fake news on social media about any health matters. Covid vaccines do NOT harm your vision, but Covid 19 may.

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