As we slowly regain normalcy in our day-to-day activities during this transition to endemicity, and especially after having our schedules disrupted due to the Movement Control Order that was implemented nationwide, Malaysians are now returning to routine health check-ups to ensure optimum health.
Most individuals are concerned about the health of their heart, lungs, and kidneys. However, after more than two years of adjusting our routines to work and study from home, socialising and shopping online, we ought to realise that staring at a screen for hours at a time can take a toll on our sight and this is why it’s important to prioritise eye health.
Similar to heart problems, lung disease and mental health conditions, our eyes are also at risk of suffering from serious eye conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and other types of vision impairments. This is why eye exams should be done regularly to ensure our vision stays healthy.
According to research conducted by the National Eye Survey Malaysia, 15,000 individuals were examined for blindness in 2018, and 58.6 per cent of them were diagnosed with untreated cataracts that could have been prevented if they were detected earlier (Chew et al., 2018, 6).
Additional research support from the National Eye Census in 2014 by the Department of Statistic Malaysia identified that 413,000 Malaysians aged 50 and above have been recorded to have some type of visual impairment and 113,000 of them were permanently blind with 43,000 cases caused by severe cataracts which could have been prevented by early eye examination.
In this instance, it is strongly advised that adults aged 18 and above should undergo consultations with an optometrist once every two years for a comprehensive eye examination.
“Most eye-related diseases are also silent killers and will be untreatable if we don’t act now. Generally, adults who may not have any vision-related issues should see an optometrist at least once every two years to upkeep vision health. However, since our screen time has drastically increased due to the pandemic and in addition to the changes in our lifestyle, we need to reconsider and prioritise our eye condition with a professional eye examination as often as once a year,” said Yoyo Foong, an optometrist from Malaysia’s leading optical retailer MOG Boutique.
If you are already a wearer of prescription glasses or contact lenses, you will need to schedule an eye examination to replace your vision aid at least once every two years.
That said, for those who are currently not using any vision aid, you may want to get a head start on eye health by scheduling an eye health assessment and comprehensive vision test with your local optometrist.
The eye examination evaluates different aspects of your vision or eye health and helps to detect eye problems at their earliest stage which is when they’re most treatable.
Several factors can determine how often you need an eye examination, including your age, contributing health condition(s) and family history of eye diseases. Below is a general guideline for Malaysians to follow based on their age group to determine how often they should visit their optometrist.
Eye Examination For Children
Visual development is rapid during the first six months of a child’s life and continues through the first decade.
From as early as three months old, your child can undergo a thorough eye examination to make sure their vision is developing properly and to reveal any evidence of potential visual impairment that could be treated earlier.
When it comes to the age of three to five, the children can then be examined by a paediatrician optometrist who can further identify complications or diseases to the children’s vision.
Additionally, eye examination for children is not only to detect or prevent eye diseases from developing but to also foster their brain-vision coordination.
Similar to walking or talking, vision development is a learned skill that helps in accomplishing daily tasks ranging from reading to catching and throwing a ball. However, if a child’s vision is underdeveloped, it could seriously hinder their learning abilities.
Eye Care Is Our Responsibility
Many people will not notice any signs or symptoms in the early stages of eye disease and they are mostly unaware that age is an influencing factor in eye condition and vision wellness.
Age-related diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may start to progress earlier during your lifespan if it is not detected or treated, hence the need to pay attention to eye health and take notice of any minor eye discomfort or vision changes, such as:
- Having trouble distinguishing colours.
- Needing time to adjust to changing levels of light.
- Losing the ability to see up close.
Should you experience these warning signs, make an appointment for a thorough eye exam to receive appropriate treatment and rule out any serious conditions.
Get an eye exam the moment you experience minor eye discomfort or vision changes.
Common Problems Of Ageing Eyes
There are four known eye conditions that will start to rapidly develop as you enter the golden ages of 50 – 65 years old: AMD, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Those in this age group are advised to undergo regular check-ups with their optometrist every year to maintain good eye condition.
With a high risk of developing eye-related diseases at an older age, individuals with a family history or health condition that may potentially contribute to the above-mentioned eye diseases will need to begin their precautionary steps today.
If you are not looking to go for your eye check-ups in a hospital or clinic, you may want to consider a thorough eye and vision check-up with MOG, the leading optical retailer in our country.
MOG’s six-in-one Vision Experience revolves around a professional eye care routine which includes hospital-grade Eye Health Assessment that can address potential eye diseases through retina assessment that can detect any onset of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and AMD, as well as corneal mapping and corneal assessment for a detailed image of your eyeballs, which can reassure you of your current eye condition, and also detect the risk of cataract while sharing ways in which you can improve overall eye health.
Take Care of Your Eyes
Eye health is important for the overall wellness of our body and it should not be neglected.
While the three Os (optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians) can assist you in detecting and preventing eye diseases, the ultimate responsibility lies with you to ensure your eyes are in good health.
Caring for your eyes is not as complicated as it may seem and these are a few things you can do to protect your vision:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Get regular exercises.
- Wear sunglasses to protect from UVA/UVB radiation.
- Avoid smoking.
- Only buy contact lenses from reliable optical stores.
- Give your eyes a rest (20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
Eye health is as important as the health of other organs in your body.
Just by checking your eyes, an optometrist is able to detect eye diseases as well as potential health risks and other underlying diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, to name a few.
Considering the benefits of eye examination to your well-being, it is best to include it in your annual health check-ups.
Yoyo Foong is an optometrist from optical retailer MOG Boutique.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.