In this illuminating Q & A session, Ebany Zhang, a seasoned optometrist from Eyelife, a boutique and bespoke optometry practice located in Melbourne's bay side suburb St Kilda, sheds light on the importance of regular eye checkups, the role of genetics in eye health, common age-related eye conditions, and much more.
Discover practical advice and valuable insights to maintain optimal eye health in an increasingly digital world.
Q & A With Eyelife's Ebany Zhang
1. Why is a regular eye checkup important for maintaining overall eye health, and how often should individuals schedule these checkups?
Many eye issues that lead to vision loss are preventable if detected early. It’s important to make sure you aren’t at risk of diseases that can impact your vision if left undiscovered.
Your optometrist can look into your eyes and see signs of diabetes, hypertension and other systemic conditions. The eye is the only part of the body where blood vessels are actually visible. Eyes truly are a window to our overall health and well-being!
Eye check-ups aren’t just about clear vision, but a holistic view of the health of the eye and making sure you’re enjoying comfortable vision.
When you have an eye test, the optometrist will advise you when to schedule your next appointment. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to have regular check-ups every two years. Although, if you notice a change in your vision, book an eye exam.
2. Could you explain the role of family genetics in eye health, and are there specific conditions or diseases that individuals with a family history of eye issues should be particularly mindful of?
Genetics has a role to play in common eye health conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma etc. If you have a family member with an eye condition, make sure you have regular eye checks, and encourage other family members to get checked too.
It doesn’t come down to genetics alone. Lifestyle and diet choices also influence the health of the eyes. It’s about how you take care of your body on the whole.
3. As people age, what are the common age-related eye conditions or changes they should be aware of, and are there preventative measures or lifestyle choices that can help maintain good eye health as we grow older?
The eye is a remarkable organ, capable of providing a lifetime of clear vision in the absence of disease. However, there are several factors that can contribute to vision deterioration, such as cataracts, diabetes, dry eyes, inflammation, and macular degeneration. To maintain optimal eye health, I recommend incorporating a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants, including fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), nuts, eggs, and fish. Additionally, supplementing with oil can help alleviate dry eyes.
Dry eyes and allergies are quite common and can impact your vision and overall comfort during daily tasks. Whether you experience excessive tear production or insufficient tear production, gritty and itchy eyes can be bothersome. It's important to avoid excessive eye rubbing and instead rely on appropriate eye drops to provide soothing and long-lasting relief. Opting for preservative-free lubricants is ideal, and your optometrist can guide you in selecting the most suitable eye drops for your needs.
Have you noticed a haze in your vision? Cataracts typically develop with age, progressing faster with increased exposure to UV rays, certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, genetic predisposition, or certain medications. While it may sound daunting, advancements in technology have made it possible to restore vision in a matter of minutes.
Remember to include regular eye examinations as part of your overall health routine to ensure optimal eye function and well-being.
4. In our increasingly digital world, many people spend extended hours looking at screens. What are some potential eye strain issues associated with screen time, and do you have any recommendations for reducing or managing screen-related eye discomfort?
Screens yes! We long to break free from them but alas, for most individuals, it is an unattainable feat. Our eyes have not evolved to constantly focus on close objects. Picture the eye as a camera lens with a tireless inner muscle that diligently zooms in on nearby things, like screens or devices. As time passes, that muscle tires and yearns for respite. Hence, vision tends to be sharper at the beginning of the workday but gradually falters as the day wears on. This predicament is further compounded by the natural decline of the focusing muscle, typically around forty, rendering it less capable of maintaining a sharp focus on up-close objects. This visual condition is known as presbyopia, which often leads people to exclaim, "My arms aren't long enough!" ... The time has come for reading glasses.
Common eye strain issues associated with screen work include tired eyes, intermittent blur when trying to concentrate, losing focus, and frontal headaches that begin behind or around the eye area. It can happen to anyone at any age, even school children who use digital devices.
My advice is to keep devices at arm's length, don't hold your phone too near, or lean in too close to the screen, and keep your setup ergonomic. Take breaks when you can and look into the distance to rest your eye muscle. It's ideal to sit next to a window and look outside every now and then if possible. If you are still experiencing eye symptoms, visit your local optometrist to see if spectacles are the right option to take away your strain and tension!
I'm frequently asked if spectacles make your eyes weaker. Myth busted: spectacles do not cause your vision to deteriorate; persistent eye strain does. Spectacles do the focusing for you, so your eyes are in a relaxed state while working. The eye may not have evolved to keep up with our modern lifestyle, but there have been great advances in spectacle lens technology. Not all lenses are the same, and they don't all work the same way, especially when it comes to multifocals. If you're willing to invest in a new accessory, invest in your optimal vision.
A lot of people don't want to wear their glasses because they haven't been styled by a fashion expert who knows your face shape and can find something that not only helps you see better but elevates your look too.
Feeling comfortable in a stylish pair of spectacles or sunglasses that suit your lifestyle is exciting and good for your long-term eye health.
5. Aside from regular checkups and a balanced diet, are there specific habits or practices individuals can adopt in their daily lives to support long-term eye health and minimise the risk of eye-related problems?
If you attend regular eye check-ups and have a balanced diet full of antioxidants and leafy greens, you are on your way to maintaining good vision for life. Other things to be mindful of include not smoking, exercising, and using sun protection. Sun protection for your eyes? Yes! Freckles on the skin are common, but they can also occur on the back of the eyes too. The Australian sun and our love of the outdoors mean sunglasses are more than a fashion accessory. They are an accessory you need. When purchasing sunglasses, check that the lens category provides adequate sun protection. Prescription sunglasses are also a great option.
Common causes of eye injury include chemical irritants such as eyelash extensions, injuries caused by cleaning products splashing into the eyes, or plant matter entering the eye while doing tasks such as gardening! Although the eye is resilient and most injuries heal without leaving a scar, it’s a good idea to be mindful of safety when doing tasks. Safety glasses can save you a trip to the emergency eye hospital.
Fun fact: Did you know it is possible to see better than 20/20, and many people do? Ask your local optometrist if you have any questions about your eyes!
If you look after your eyes, your eyes will thank you for it over time! ☺
Ebany (Yilu) Zhang
Founded in 2006 in St Kilda, just around the corner from its current location on Barkly Street, Eye Life has remained faithful to its original ethos. With Kate and Daryl at the helm as part of the founding team, they have continued to welcome their loyal customers over the years.
Eye Life stands out by curating an exceptional range of high-quality eyewear, meticulously selecting the finest designs in eyewear and sunglasses from renowned brands. They pride themselves on their commitment to style, quality, and offering a diverse range of options to their customers, attracting discerning eyewear enthusiasts from all corners of Australia.
The team at Eye Life truly understands the importance of putting the customer first. They are not only known for their impeccable service and professionalism, but they also possess a wealth of knowledge in their field. They believe in the art of personalising frames to perfection, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit. They take the time to discuss all available options, catering to the unique needs of each individual.
What sets Eye Life apart is their exclusive selection of brands. They take immense pride in offering one of the world's most exquisite collections of eyewear, including sought-after brands like DITA, Oliver Peoples, ic! berlin, Cutler and Gross, LINDBERG, and more. At Eye Life, exceptional eyewear meets unparalleled service, with the utmost consideration given to every customer's needs and desires.
Schedule your next eye checkup with the outstanding Eyelife team today at eyelife.com.au
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