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Article: Monday Must: Keeping Your Eyes Happy

Monday Must: Keeping Your Eyes Happy

Hello! I’m Dr. Shalini Vettivelu and I’m an Optometrist working out of Guelph Ontario. I detect and treat eye diseases and help provide people with their best vision. The best part of my job is educating my patients on all things eyes. I can pretty much talk about eyeballs all day.  

I am a Tamil SriLankan that immigrated to Canada at age of 8. My parents sacrificed so much to come to Canada and I felt immense pressure to succeed the moment we stepped onto Canadian soil. Higher education was pushed on me which wasn’t all that hard because I was pretty nerdy anyways. My dedication to academics meant I never truly took the time to tap into my creative and quirky side. Luckily, I met a group of eight amazing women in Optometry school and nine years later, Neyene (nine) was born. We developed Neyene as a means to educate people on ocular wellness and beauty in a creative way.

People are becoming more conscientious about maintaining a good quality of life in their 80’s and 90’s. We understand it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your health. Here are the “5 musts” from this eye doctor to maintain your vision and ocular health well into your grey years.

Spend time outdoors 

This advice mainly applies to your children and their risk myopia (near-sighted). Myopia isn’t just about needing glasses to see far away, it has more serious implications. The higher the prescription, the higher the risk for blinding conditions like glaucoma and retinal detachments. Since the pandemic, I see more of my pediatric patients needing glasses for distance and here’s why — children have been stuck indoors with online learning and their outdoor time from recess has been taken away. Studies show that children who spend an extra hour a day playing outdoors are less likely to develop a myopic prescription. So go for that walk or ask your kids to help with outdoor chores. If they complain about mowing the lawn, tell them the eye doctor prescribed it ;) 

Sunglasses — Rain or shine 

I always push my patients to spend time outside because it does wonders to our physical and mental health, but I want you to do it safely. Prolonged sun exposure leads to increased risk of early cataracts, macular degeneration (a blinding disease with no cure), malignant lesions in the eyes ... oh and wrinkles, nobody wants wrinkles. So wear those sunnies on cloudy days and even in the winter months. 

Love your eyelids 

Dry eyes is very common and it can be debilitating. Since COVID, screen time has gone up and so has dry eyes. Humans blink almost 50% less when they stare at screens. People think eye drops alone will treat dry eyes but giving your eyelids some love is also key! There are glands within the lids that release oil when we blink. The oil keeps our tear film from evaporating so quickly. As we age, the glands produce butter instead of oil and cause dry eyes. Here are 2 natural ways to give those lids some love: 

  1. Keep the lids clean - an irritated lid with bacteria leads to a poor tear film. Use a safe lid cleanser to wash the lash line morning and night. 
  2. Applying a warm compress on your eyelids for 10 minutes everyday - this keeps the glands in the “oil state”. If your vision is blurry after a warm compress, it means it’s working! 

Choose your eye makeup & treatments wisely 

Look at the ingredients list of your makeup. FDA regulations don’t require companies to show the safety of individual products or ingredients. For example, waterproof beauty products have “forever chemicals” called PFAS. Forever chemicals potentially affect your metabolism, immune system and fertility. 

When you do a lash or cosmetic treatment, do your research. Certain lash growth serums can permanently pigment the skin around your eyes and even change your iris colour. Test the lash glue on your wrist, the damage to your eyelids can have pretty serious ramifications. You need to take onus and do the research on your beauty products so that you know what you’re putting into your body.  

Routine eye exams are part of a healthy lifestyle 

Get your eyes examined even if you see 20/20. I catch so much disease when I look at the eyes — from diabetes, multiple sclerosis, life-threatening embolisms to tumours. An eye exam is even more imperative when you have a family history of eye diseases. Just because your grandpa lost vision from macular degeneration, doesn’t mean you will too. Your genetics are not your destiny. There are a lot of factors you do have under your control. Leading a healthy lifestyle will significantly reduce the chances of you developing many of these blinding diseases like glaucoma and macular degenerations. Small habits lead to big impact and improve your chances of having good vision, even when you’re 80. So quit smoking, stay active, eat those anti-oxidants and of course, get your eyes checked.

If you want to dive deeper, here's some further research on eye makeup, UV protection and genetics.

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