What is the most overworked organ in your body?
a) your brain
b) your stomach
c) your eyes
Most politically correct students will choose A, but deep down we all know that the most overworked organ is our eyes. And they are overworked not because we are concentrating on homework (staring blankly at our Maths homework does not count), but because we spend so many waking hours staring at our smart phones, our computer screens and our TV screens.
This is the reason why Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates in the world. I personally got my first pair of spectacles in primary 1. Again, it wasn’t because I stared too hard at my Maths homework. And since that fateful age, my vision just went from bad to worse.
If you, like me, have been in an ongoing battle with myopia, you might want to take note of the following tips.
1. Eat healthy foods
A balanced diet is essential for healthy eyes. Studies have shown that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E can help to keep age-related vision problems, such as macular degeneration and cataracts, at bay. These nutrients can be found in spinach, kai lan (Chinese kale), salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, pork and so on.
Oh and if in a desperate attempt to improve your vision, you have been eating lots of carrots, it is time to stop being a bunny. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which helps to maintain eyesight. But carrots do not actually improve your vision. The myth that carrots are especially good for your eyes is a result of World War II propaganda. During the war, the British Royal Air Force touted the benefits of carrots for night-time vision to mask the fact that they have developed a new type of radar technology which helps pilots to shoot down enemy planes at night.
2. Listen to the health promotion board
The health promotion board exists for a reason—to raise a generation of healthy Singaporean kids. So when they dispense advice, do listen up. Rest your eyes after staring at the computer screen for more than 20 minutes. Do not lie down while reading a book or while watching a Korean drama.
3. Be extra careful when using contact lenses
I am not just a half-blind bat. I am a vain half blind bat. As such, contact lenses are my natural choice. However, as with putting anything into your eyes, carelessness can result in dire consequences and a lifetime of regret.
When choosing contact lenses, first watch out for the oxygen permeability (OP) of a contact lens. This is important because your cornea needs to breathe. But because it has no blood supply on its own, it gets oxygen from your tears and directly from the atmosphere. Putting a layer of plastic over your eyes restricts the amount of oxygen that gets to your eyes, and over time, corneal hypoxia may develop, which can lead to infections in the eyes and irreversible blood vessel growth known as neovascularisation.
The oxygen permeability of a contact lens is measured in terms of DK/t. Generally, the higher the DK/t, the safer the use of that brand of contact lenses. My personal favourite is Biofinity, which has a DK of 128 and high water content (48 percent water). The biggest downside is that it is pricier than many other brands on the market.
To read about the dangers of improper contact lens wear, click here.
When in doubt, read the instructions that come together with your contact lenses and the disinfecting solution, or check with your optometrist.
Your eyesight is irreplaceable. If you act like a slave-driver to your eyes now, you will pay the cost later. Conversely, if you treat your eyes well, they will serve you well.