Eye Health

20 May 2015

Preventing eye disease

As many eye diseases show no symptoms in their early stages, regular eye tests are absolutely essential.


The earlier an eye disease is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated.

While there are some things that can be done to prevent eye infections and injuries, you cannot change your genetic inheritance.

But you can make it a priority to take care of your eyesight on a daily basis, such as getting into a habit of looking away from your computer every 20 minutes, and focusing on something at least six metres away from where you are sitting, thereby giving your eyes a much-needed break.

Read: Retinopathy

Here are tips from several different expert sources on preventing the different conditions and diseases which can affect your eyes:

Preventing eye infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give the following tips:

•    Many eye infections spread easily from person to person, so regular washing of hands is essential.
•    Avoid touching your face and eyes, as this is how infection can be spread from one eye to another.
•    Wash the discharge from your eyes several times a day using a clean washcloth or tissues. Do not re-use these.
•    Avoid sharing articles such as towels, blankets and pillowcases.
•    Do not use the same eye drop dispenser for infected and non-infected eyes.
•    Do not share any items, such as eye-make-up, with other people.

Read: Cataracts

Preventing eye injuries

Here is a selection of some of the tips given by the National Institutes of Health:

•    Start educating children from a young age about activities or objects that could damage the eyes.
•    Get into the habit of wearing protective eyewear in situations that can put the eyes at risk, such as using a high speed grinder, or travelling in an open vehicle.
•    Discourage the use of fireworks and never let children or teenagers light them.
•    Don’t let children play with sharp objects, such as a pair of scissors or a sharp stick.
•    Keep hot liquids out of the reach of children.
•    Be aware of the damage that household cleaning agents and weed killers and pesticides can do to your eyes and those of your children. Store these things in a safe place.
•    Always follow safety precautions when at work.
•    Be aware that anything that travels at high velocity, such as a ball, can do serious damage to the eye.
•    Wear the correct protective gear when playing high-risk sports.

Read: Squint

Preventing the onset of genetically inherited eye diseases

Here are some tips from the Cleveland Clinic on preventing some of the most common genetically inherited eye diseases.

Be aware of your family history when it comes to eye diseases, and know which symptoms you should look out for.

Go for regular eye screenings (every year or two years if your eyesight is normal and more frequently if it is not).

Remember that many eye diseases do not have noticeable symptoms in their early stages. Some small vision changes are normal and age-related, but gradual vision loss is not. Not all vision changes are sudden and dramatic.

Smoking is a risk factor for certain conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration.

Act immediately if you notice any changes in your visual abilities, such as loss of peripheral vision or blurry vision.

If you have diabetes, or arthritis, or multiple sclerosis or any other condition that could affect your eyes, taking care of your eyesight should be one of your top priorities. Keeping a close watch on the condition which you have, could help preserve your eyesight.

It is also essential to follow all instructions given by your ophthalmologist with regards to the wearing of glasses or contact lenses and the taking of any medication.

Read More:

What is eye disease?

Symptoms of eye disease

Causes of eye disease

Image: Beautiful woman adjusting choosing sunglasses from Shutterstock


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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