They say your eyes are the window to your soul. They certainly reveal much about your health, yet many of us are unaware about the connection between vision and mental health.
Studies have shown that those with vision loss are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety than other chronic conditions including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension1.
With 13 million Australians having one or more chronic eye conditions and 90% of vision loss preventable or treatable2,3, Medibank Members’ Choice Provider OPSM is encouraging members this World Sight Day to have their eyes tested regularly (in accordance with eye health needs) to help maximise eye health.
The earlier eye problems are diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, particularly as we age and eye conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma become more common. Elizabeth Kodari, optometrist at OPSM says “Unfortunately, patients with vision loss may delay seeing an optometrist. This can have a huge impact on their quality of life and mental health”.
Vision loss can influence your ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, watching television and cooking, leading to a reduced sense of independence, impacting mental health. The good news is optometrists are here to help. In addition to diagnosing and managing eye conditions, optometrists can assist in providing visual aids to help you continue doing the things you love.
Changes in our lifestyle with COVID-19 including increased screen time and ill-fitted face masks have seen a rise in dry eye symptoms4,5. Studies have found that depression and anxiety is more common in those suffering from Dry Eye Disease6.
Elizabeth recommends taking regular breaks and blinking frequently to minimise dry eye symptoms. “When we focus on a screen for long periods, we tend to blink less. This can exacerbate dry eye symptoms”.
To keep your eyes healthy and promote positive mental health, OPSM shares their top five eyecare tips
Have regular eye tests
Make regular check-ups part of your routine. Elizabeth says, “It’s important to have an eye test at least once every two years or earlier if recommended by your optometrist”.
Slide on UV protection
UV rays can cause irreversible damage to our eyes. They can reflect off surfaces including water, sand and snow and UV damage has been associated with cataracts and conjunctival changes7. It’s important to wear quality sunglasses to help protect your eyes.
Eat well and exercise
Diet rich in antioxidants and omega oils are great for your eyes8. Try snacking on fruit, nuts and eating oily fish or eggs a couple of times a week. Certain eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy can be associated with lack of physical exercise9. Adding a walk to your daily routine maybe beneficial for both your eye and mental health.
Rest your eyes
Working for hours on a computer, tablet or mobile phone can lead to digital eye strain including dry eyes10. Elizabeth recommends “Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break from your screen and focus on a distance object far away to help your eyes relax and adjust focus”.
Look into your family history
Some eye conditions can be genetic. Its important to let your optometrist know if you have a family history of eye conditions.
1 The impact of low vision on activities of daily living, symptoms of depression, feelings of anxiety and social support in community-living older adults seeking vision rehabilitation services- Quality of Life Research (2012).
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Eye health (2021)
3 Preventable vision loss affects millions globally-JAMA 15 (2021).
4 Addressing Post-operative Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE) - Eye 35 (2021).
5 Too much time on screens? Screen time effects and guidelines for children and young people- Australian Govenment-Australian Institute of Family Studies
6 Depression and anxiety in dry eye disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis- Eye 30 (2016).
7 Ultraviolet radiation oxidative stress affects eye health- Journal of BioPhotonics 11 (2018).
8 Nutrients for the aging eye- Clinical interventions in aging 8 (2013).
9 Physical activity and its correlation to diabetic retinopathy- J Diabetes Complications 31 (2017)
10 Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open ophthalmology 3 (2018).
*Offer exclusively available for Medibank Health Insurance members. Present your Medibank member card to redeem offer. Available at participating OPSM stores and online for Single Vision lenses only. Discount is off normal selling price of prescription lenses (including lens extras) when purchased as a complete pair (frame and lenses) in one transaction. Discount can also be applied to the normal selling price of prescription lenses (including lens extras) when purchased as a complete pair of prescription sunglasses (sunglass frame and lenses) in one transaction. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount (including health fund discount) except for a health fund benefit. Health fund benefits are subject to a customer’s policy waiting periods, annual limits and level of extras covers. Customer must have a valid optical prescription. Customers may be required to undergo an eye test at their own cost prior to redemption of value package if their prescription is not valid. Offer excludes sale items, eye exams and eye exam technology, contact lens consultations, contact lenses, eyewear protection plan, value packages, safety glasses and gift cards. Offer starts 25/10/21 ends 14/11/21.