The eyes are just as vulnerable if not more vulnerable to UV rays as the skin, yet eighty-five percent of South African’s don’t think that damage to the eyes is one of the most harmful effects of extended exposure to the sun. This and other startling results were revealed in the recent Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund survey, conducted by world-renowned research company Ipsos.
Transitions Optical conducted this research – into important topics such as nutrition, UV exposure, eye fatigue and glare – with the aim of gleaning a greater understanding of South Africans’ eye habits. “We suspected the need to raise the awareness of healthy sight amongst the South African public. The research results confirm that there is indeed an alarming lack of knowledge and correct behaviour regarding eye health in the country,” states Richard Pearson, Country Manager, Transitions Optical South Africa.
Well into their teenage years, kids’ eyes are the most in danger of being damaged by harmful UV rays; the effects of which are usually only detected later on in life. 48% of respondents surveyed – whose children don’t wear corrective glasses or contact lenses – said that their children have never had their eyes checked! A worrying figure as parents should be taking their children for an eye check at least once a year. Early detection can help rectify or prevent eye conditions from worsening or causing permanent, irreversible damage. Protecting children’s eyes today will minimise the risk of damage to their sight in future.
Maintaining Healthy Sight throughout Life
As adults age the eyes are more susceptible to Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD); a progressive eye disease which attacks the macula of the eye where sharpest vision occurs. A healthy lifestyle, no smoking, a healthy diet and protecting the eyes from harmful UV rays are recommended preventative methods to minimise the risk of AMD. It is also imperative that adults visit an optometrist at least once a year. In South Africa, 53% of respondents questioned wear corrective spectacles or contact lenses yet only 51% of the same group have their eyes tested at least once a year.
Diabetes and Glaucoma: A Global Warning
Diabetes – globally one of the 21st century’s most systemic diseases – and glaucoma can often have damaging and irreversible effects on the eyes. An annual eye check can determine whether either disease is affecting the eyes. Results show that South Africans (87%) know that diabetes is a threat to their sight but few might realise that 40% of diabetes patients are more likely to also suffer from glaucoma. The longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is and its risk increases with age. Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. The pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually lost because the retina and nerve are damaged.
This year, Eye Care Awareness Month (22 September to 17 October 2008) will focus on the ageing eye and vision impairment in the elderly on a global level. Vision2020’s campaign is entitled “Eyes on the Future – fighting vision impairment in later life” recognises that in a world where populations are aging, and individuals are living longer; blindness from chronic conditions is also on the rise. The South African Optometric Association (SAOA) will be communicating these and other messages during Eye Care Awareness Month and World Sight Day (9 October 2008).
Most people would rate their sight as their most-valued sense, above hearing, touch, taste and smell. Yet ironically, misconceptions around eye health mean people appear to continually neglect their eyes. The Healthy Sight Survey revealed that 9 out of 10 South Africans consider the eyes to be the first part of the body they look at when meeting people. However, despite the aesthetic importance placed on the eyes and healthy sight looking after them seems low on priority lists. 47% of all respondents questioned admitted to only having an eye check once every two years if not less often.
Nutrition & Eye Health
Not many people know that green leafy vegetables, eggs, garlic, onions, shallots, capers, soy, blueberries, grapes and a variety of nuts are all good for the eyes. Results show that 86% of the population knows that healthy eating habits can have a positive effect on the eyes yet only 2% knows which vitamins they should be taking in to help maintain healthy sight. Fresh vegetables, fish and fruit contain vitamins A, B2, C and E which are hugely beneficial to the eyes.
In today’s fast-moving, “have-to-have-it-now” world, spending long hours behind the computer are often the norm. Computer images are made up of thousands of tiny dots which make the eyes constantly focus and refocus. The result: dry, puffy and tired eyes. 88% of South Africans who participated in the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund Survey think that working with a computer screen can strongly affect eyesight. 82% say that they experience the most eye fatigue when using a computer. Eye fatigue can be caused by not wearing the correct lenses or prescription. The good news though is that although eye fatigue causes discomfort it doesn’t lead to permanent damage to the eye.
Reflections and glare can also cause discomfort and eye fatigue as they place the eyes under unnecessary strain from squinting. Surfaces such as water, windows and concrete reflect up to 80% of UV rays. Respondents stated that they experienced the most discomfort from glare from the sun (80%) and from windows (74%).
Healthy Sight in Every Light
The most effective way for prescription or sunglass wearers to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays on a daily basis would be to wear variable-tint lenses fitted into their frames. Transitions® lenses with Advanced Performance – the #1 recommended variable-tint manufacturer in the world – are clear lenses indoors which become sun lens dark when exposed to UV light. Transitions® lenses with Advanced Performance offer enhanced clarity, enhanced glare reduction, block 100% harmful UV rays. They can also be fitted into any designer frame, making them perfect for the fashion-conscious and perfect for any age group. “Healthy sight is about optimising quality of vision for today and preserving eye health and well being for the future,” comments Richard Pearson.
Don’t be blind to the facts, get UV aware. Transitions® lenses with Advanced Performance are the healthy, stylish and convenient solution for spectacle wearers; helping maintain healthy sight in every light.
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