The A-Z of eyecare

The A-Z of eyecare
How to take care of your eyes at every stage of life

No matter how lucky we are, the fact is, as we age, our eyesight will continue to change, for better or worse. Often, the changes are so incremental that we don’t even realise their impact. Some changes can be good, such as strengthening our eyesight during childhood. Still, other changes can be harmful, such as macular degeneration. Either way, we must learn to care for our eyes through every age, from birth to our senior years. Luckily, at Optical Insight, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to show you how to maintain healthy eyes at every stage of life.

How to take care of our babies’ eyes

Good optical hygiene for our newborns is essential to prevent the development of eye infections. Newborn babies naturally produce a lot of mucous fluid to maintain the moisture in their eyes. The mucin produced turns into what we know as sleep crust. When left alone, it can lead to eye infections and result in vision loss. For babies who sleep a lot, it’s crucial we clear off the eye gunk.

However, as newborn skin is so sensitive, we must take extra care when cleaning their faces.

 Tips for cleaning away the sleep under your babies’ eyes

  • Before cleaning, it’s essential to wash your hands with a neutral soap to prevent infection.
  • Cleaning should be carried out with a sterilised wet wipe or gauze. Never use your hand, cotton, cloth or paper and tissues.
  • Never separate your babies’ eyelids when they are dry
  • You can use a physiological serum or warm boiled water to wet your wipe or gauze and gently dab at the sleep crust until it’s moist and is easily removed. Never rub or scratch away the sleep.
  • Clean from the tear duct to the outer corner of the eye, dragging the debris outwards.
  • Clean twice daily: once in the morning when your baby has woken up and once after the nap.

When to worry:

If your baby’s eyes are persistently and abundantly secreting the mucin and they secretions appear green or yellow, or your baby’s eyes are swollen or red because of the secretion, it’s time to make an appointment with your paediatric ophthalmologist.

Developing good eyesight

Good eyesight is not something we are born with. As parents, there are some things we can do to encourage our baby to develop good eyesight. These include:

  • Hanging a mobile above your baby’s crib
  • Giving your baby toys to hold and visualise
  • Placing toys within focus, approximately 20cm away, when playing
  • Encouraging your baby to crawl around
  • Talking to your baby as you move around the room to encourage their eyes to follow you

Keeping toddlers and children’s eyes healthy

Our vision develops over time. The first ten years of a person’s life are crucial in developing our eyesight and detecting any problems. When it comes to healthy eyes, early detection of any problems is key. As a result, it’s important to have their eyes checked by a professional regularly, every two years, from the time they turn three.

Additionally, when they are young, stimulating toys are particularly important in encouraging good eyesight and improving motor and hand-eye coordination. Some of these toys include building blocks, puzzles, peg boards, making beaded jewellery, drawing and painting tools and modelling clay, and a child-safe ball to play catch with. Make sure the toys are age-appropriate and free from sharp edges to prevent accidents and injuries.

It can be difficult to diagnose vision problems in children, as they tend not to be able to recognise and verbalise issues. After all, how can they understand that what is normal to them is, in fact, not normal? If you see your child doing any of the following, it’s time to get their eyes checked:

  • Frequent disinterest in distant objects
  • Squinting, especially when trying to focus
  • Regular head tilting
  • Holding objects very close to their eyes
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

Common childhood vision problems to look out for:

  • Farsightedness (hyperopia) – when close objects are blurry. Your child might present with difficulty reading.
  • Nearsightedness (myopia) – Objects far away are blurry. Your child might find it hard to see the board at the front of the classroom if they sit in the back.
  • Astigmatism – this can cause both near and far vision to be blurry.

Finally, we can’t stop our children and teens from having fun, but we can protect them. Eye injuries are the most common cause of blindness in children, especially in sports. More than 90 per cent of children’s eye injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear. They must wear proper protective goggles rather than glasses or sunglasses, as normal sunglasses or eye glasses can shatter on impact and cause even more eye damage.

Taking care of our vision in adulthood

Changes in your vision are inevitable. Even those who’ve enjoyed perfect vision throughout their lives will start to see changes around 40 years old. Taking good care of your eye health will reduce the impact of the changes, but it won’t eliminate them.

Between 40 and 60 years old, you might begin find it difficult to focus on things up close. If you find it difficult to read a book or focus on a screen, it’s time to invest in glasses. Once you turn 60, the changes start becoming more drastic. At this point, you must take extra steps to care for the health of your eyes. Those who are older than 60 are more prone to developing severe conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. You must be aware of any changes in your vision and contact a specialist immediately. Early treatment can ward off many severe symptoms and repercussions of eye disease or allow you to avoid them entirely.

 Tips for good eye health at any age

Finally, no matter how old you are, here are some things you can do to maintain healthy eyes:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Wear sunglasses that protect from UV when outside
  • Limit the use of digital screens. Take frequent breaks and employ the 20-20-20 rule to limit digital eye strain.
  • By being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Maintain normal blood pressure
  • Understand your family history

More often than not, people take their eyesight for granted. It’s not until their sight becomes noticeably fuzzy, blurred or worse that they begin to take the necessary steps to take care of their vision. Notice any changes in your eyes lately? Book an appointment with Optical Insight today.


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