Through the day, we use our eyes constantly for some activity or the other, whether to read, watch television, check our mobile phones, work on computer screens or something else. It is easy to take the gift of sight for granted. But our eyes are a vital aspect of our health and need to be cared for as well. Here are some simple guidelines to ensure you are seeing your best.

When to visit your eye specialist

By age 4 All children should have their eyes checked by age of 4.
If there is family history of childhood vision problems, or if the child has wandering eyes, crossed eyes, or any other eye problem, an immediate eye examination is a must.
Before age 20 As recommended by a pediatrician or other doctor
Between ages
20 to 40
Every 5 years, unless you experience any problems such as visual changes, pain, flashes of light, new floaters or tearing, or if you have an eye injury
Between ages
40 to 60
Every 2 to 4 years

Eye care for Computer users:

  • Exercise your eyes
    Short breaks between regular long work hours refresh your eyes. First, blink your eyes several times. While you keep your eyes closed, roll your eyeballs both clockwise and anticlockwise and take a deep breath. Gradually open your eyes while releasing your breath. This exercise should last for a minute and you can repeat it three times before getting back to work. It is a good workout for the eyes.

  • Look away
    Every hour, rest your eyes by looking at distant objects either in your office or outside the window for about 5 minutes. This helps your eyes focus better.

  • Drink water
    Drink plenty of water. When you consume less water, especially in an air-conditioned office, the body starts storing water as a defense mechanism. This adds to puffiness around the eyes.

  • Eat healthy
    Incorporate vitamins A, C, and E in your daily diet. Citrus fruits, green leafy veggies, tomatoes, poultry and dairy products are great sources of these and many more nutrients.

  • Know your contact lenses
    Ideally, contact lens should not be worn for more than 10-12 hours a day and occasionally for 14 hours.

Can I prevent cataract?
Cataracts are basically blind spots in the eye’s lens which grows as we age, resulting in cloudy vision. While cataract is an age-related occurrence, there are several risk factors that aid its development, some of which we can influence.

  1. Age: Increasing age is the key factor in age-related cataract, the most common type of cataract, and yet beyond our control. But the age at which a person, or rather an eye develops cataract is variable.

  2. Genetics: Studies have shown that early development of age-related cataract does run in families - but whether this is because of some hidden genetic factors, or because of sharing a common environment, remains unclear.

  3. Excessive exposure to sunlight: Studies have indirectly shown links to early development of cataract in people with outdoor occupations, and in tropical countries like India as compared to temperate climate countries. While a little sunlight is good for eyes, use UV-protective sunglasses to reduce your exposure to UV rays in harsh sunlight.

  4. Smoking: Cataract is yet another harmful fallout of smoking. Chemicals absorbed from cigarette smoke enter the blood stream and oxidize the clear transparent proteins (called "crystallins") within the natural lens. Oxidative damage leads to a loss of transparency and hardening of the lens.

  5. Diabetes: Diabetics not only tend to develop cataract earlier, but once diagnosed, it tends to worsen faster as well. Sugar in the blood stream increases oxidative damage to the lens proteins, and interferes with their capacity to remain clear. Good diabetic control may help in lowering this risk.

Eye Care for all
  • Wear antiglare glasses while at work
    Antiglare glasses are mainly used for focused light, such as full-beam car headlights, and serve well for night driving. But these are also effective in reducing eye strain while working on a computer. If you wear contact lenses, you can use a pair of zero-powered antiglare glasses for the same purpose.

  • Dry Eyes due to your occupation
    An air-conditioned office environment coupled with a computer-intensive job is the perfect combination for dry eyes. Drinking adequate water is therefore essential. However, if the problem persists, visit your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

  • Never rub your eyes
    If dirt enters your eyes, do not rub your eyes. Instead blink several times to start your tears flowing; this will help flush out the dirt. You can also wash your eyes by splashing them with clean, boiled and cooled water.
    If you rub your eyes, the dirt particle will stick inside and scratch the cornea, disturbing your vision and irritating your eyes. In such cases, seek your eye doctor’s help immediately.

  • All eye drops should be discarded within a month after opening their seals.
    Once opened, eye drops lose their sterility. Germs can enter the bottle and lead to eye infection. Besides, the medicinal properties of some eye drops tend to deteriorate due to exposure to the external atmosphere, making them unsuitable for your eyes.

  • No contact lenses while swimming
    The pool water houses various microorganisms. In addition, the chlorine in the water can damage your contact lenses.

  • Using eye care products
    Before buying an eye-care product such as eye drops, always check the expiry date and the prescription. Lubricating eye drops can be refrigerated and used for a soothing effect before sleeping.

  • Optician or Ophthalmologist?
    It is always advisable to visit an eye specialist prior to visiting an optician. An ophthalmologist is trained to detect several other eye related ailments, apart from checking spectacles power.

  • Protective eye wear
    While driving, wear protective eye gear such as sunglasses with UV protection during day driving and anti-glare glasses for night time driving, especially if you are wearing contact lenses. Make sure the eye gear covers the sides of your eyes as well. Those who ride two-wheelers, remember to protect your head with a helmet!

Eye care tips for children:
Whenever your child is reading, watching television or working on any screen, ensure adequate light so your child can see well, without shadows interfering or the need to strain.

If your child is writing with the right hand, ensure that light is on the left side so the hand’s shadow does not fall on the writing material.

Children should take a break from the computer every thirty minutes to rest their eyes.

In case of injury to your child’s eye, just cover the eye with a clean handkerchief or sunglasses and visit an ophthalmologist immediately, even if it seems to be a minor injury.