Top tips for taking care of your eyes

Unless you suffer from vision problems, eye health doesn't tend to be given a lot of thought.

Yet, it is important for everyone to protect their peepers, with research showing that women are more likely than men to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, or dry eye syndrome.

To mark Women's Eye Safety Month this April, consultant oculoplastic and ophthalmic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes has offered up some top recommendations.

Visit an optician

It's really important to book to see your optometrist once a year if your family has a history of eye problems and every two years if not.

"Eye examinations are vital because many of these eye diseases do not have any symptoms in the early stages," she said. "An eye examination can also determine a lot about health such as detecting diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune conditions and certain cancers - often before you may be experiencing any symptoms."

Do not sleep in make-up

While it can be easy to leave mascara or eyeliner at the end of the day, this can be harmful to the eyes.

"Bacteria and particles from your make-up can seep into your eyes, which can lead to irritation, discomfort, and potential eye infections. These infections can cause itchiness and redness, and they should be treated right away," noted Dr Hawkes. "Sleeping in your make-up may also increase your chances of seeing milia, which are small white bumps that appear when keratin - a protein that your body produces naturally - gets trapped beneath the skin's surface."

Replace make-up brushes

All make-up brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria and fungus.

"I recommend replacing mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow every three months and also taking time to clean your brushes regularly. Please also don't share eye products with friends as you will transfer bacteria," the expert shared.

Wear sunglasses

It is extremely important for sunglasses to have UV protection because radiation from the sun can damage the delicate skin of your eyelid, as well as the skin surrounding the eye area.

"It's important sunglasses have UV 400 protection. I would also suggest choosing oversized sunglasses because these have a larger surface area of protection which not only protects the eye itself but also the eyelid skin which, due to the structural complexity and function of the eyelids, is one of the most delicate areas of the face," she stated.

Limit screen time

With work and devices, most of us are constantly looking at screens. Yet, this isn't so great for the eyes.

"It's really important to remember to take screen breaks for your eye health as you tend not to blink as much which can cause dry eyes and fasten the ageing process. With each blink, you sweep tears across the eyes and it keeps them healthy," Dr Hawkes added. "So I always recommend the 20-20-20 rule so that every 20 minutes you look out of the window at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds."