Imagine a day without scrolling through your phone, watching Netflix, or having to read road signs while driving somewhere. Sounds tough (and even a little dangerous), right?
Around 2.2 billion people worldwide have some form of vision impairment. What's even more frightening is that almost 50% of cases could have been prevented. In the USA, the number of visually impaired people is said to double by 2050. This enormous increase is due in part to us spending more and more time in front of screens, both at work and at home.
As WHO stated in their resolution on February 6, 2020, early detection and prevention are essential if we want to reduce blindness and visual impairment. Their recommendations highlighted that lifestyle choices are a preventable factor. The American people's lack of knowledge about eye health may be putting their vision at risk, according to a survey released by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. With our calculator, you can see how your lifestyle affects your eyesight. We won't leave you with meaningless figures either - you'll find some advice on what you can do to make your eyes healthier. For more details on how the calculator works, take a look at the article below.
20/20 vision? What does that even mean?
20/20 vision means that you can see perfectly from a distance, without the need for glasses. This original notation comes from the Snellen board, used to test your visual acuity.
Remember at the ophthalmologist, you'd be told to read from those boards where the letters on them gradually get smaller and smaller? A 20/20 score means that you can read the optotype 20 from 20 feet away (around 6 meters). In our calculator, we refer to vision impairment as 20/40 vision acuity. This means that for a person who can read something perfectly from 40 feet away, this level of visual impairments means you would have to be 20 feet away.
What about the diopter conversion? You'll find the solution in the table below:
Can I see any better than 20/20?
Some people see much better than what we consider normal vision. In that case, their result maybe 20/10. That means they can see from 20 feet what the average healthy person sees from only 10 feet away.
People this eagle eyed tend to end up as pilots or athletes (Olympic medalists!), and comprise about 1% of the total population. Interestingly, the difficulty in estimating this number of people comes from the fact they rarely visit the ophthalmologist - after all, they don't need to. The structure of our eye limits the maximum visual acuity to 20/5. In a large number of children, a result of 20/15 is typical.
Why does my vision get worse every year?
Generally speaking, physiological sight deterioration is related to age. However, young people often develop myopia, particularly if they have genetic predispositions (e.g., their parents have a major visual impairment) or if they grow too fast. In the second scenario, the eyeball does not keep up with the growth of the rest of the body and becomes too short. This tends to be temporary though; the eyeball catches up once the kid stops growing.
For adults, however, there are two independent phenomena that can occur:
- After the age of 40, lenses lose their capacity for accommodating various shapes and become less flexible. The effect? Your close-up vision gets worse. It doesn't matter if you have had myopia or hyperopia before, the effect is still the same.
- After 70, due to changes in light refraction within the eyeball, vision deteriorates by +1.5 dioptres, and by +2.5 dioptres by the time you reach 80. Fortunately, if you are shortsighted, your defect 'retreats' by the same magnitude.
Other conditions that are more likely to affect the elderly, such as diabetes and hypertension, do not contribute to good visual acuity either.
Use of the calculator - a short guide
This Omni calculator is based on the findings of CONSTANCES cohort, a prospective cohort study of almost forty thousand members from the general adult population in France.
Let's go through step by step what is required for a result:
Screen time - use of digital screens, such as computers, tablets, telephones, leads to eye and vision-related problems. Prolonged exposure, with no breaks, is particularly harmful. Choose how many hours a day you spend in front of a screen.
Activity - 1 to 3 points are given for each answer. Look at the first field - the question concerns the level of activity that goes with your job. If you are retired, select the option that most closely corresponds to your last job.
- Cycling, hiking, walking - this question refers to regular, longer hikes, cycling trips or walks.
- Household activities - such as house cleaning, gardening. Again, how much time you spend during the week doing this.
- Gym, team sports - this is all about being active in your free time - team games, running, cardio exercises all count. Choose how many hours a week you spend dloing such things.
Diet - studies show that a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is linked to healthy eyes, so the calculator evaluates your diet against one; between 1 and 5 points are given in each category
- On top there are fruit, vegetables, and legumes, which have a positive effect on your eyes. Below them are some more eye-protecting products, fish and cereals.
- White and red meat, as well as dairy products, have an unfavorable effect on your body, and according to the MedDiet ideology, their consumption should be limited.
- Olive oil - daily use is highly recommended .
- Alcohol - Some is recommended, but in moderation - none is as unhealthy as over 7 cups a week.
Smoking - first, choose if you have ever smoked. Unfortunately, any history of smoking increases the risk of vision impairment.
- If you smoke, think about quitting (as soon as possible, smoking damages not only your vision but also your lungs, heart, and increases the risk of cancer!). Whether you still smoke or already quit smoking, choose how many cigarettes you smoke (or smoked) a day for how many years.
And so in practice, what can I do to keep my sight going?
It might sound trivial, but start moving. You probably won't change your job (81% of office workers spend between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desks). As the job makes up about 30% of your time, the next 30% is sleep - it is worth making sure that you spend your free time actively. Doctors advise regular trips or cardio activity, preferably longer than 2 hours a week. The same goes for daily chores that we don't notice. Housework, gardening - all of this benefits your eyesight and cardiovascular system.
As for the time you spend in front of screens, we know how hard it is to limit it with today's lifestyle. That's why it's useful to bear in mind a simple trick: 20-20-20. That is, every 20 minutes look at an object that is 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.
As we have already mentioned several times, you have to quit smoking. There is no "but." There are better ways to deal with stress or socialize with friends. Tobacco harms practically every single one of your organs. If it's not your first time making this resolution, consider nicotine replacement therapy, or go to a physician.
When it comes to diet, try to eat more cereals, legumes, and, of course fruit and vegetables. Cut down on meat, reducing the consumption of red meat in particular will help our planet. And on top of all of that, olive oil. Lots and lots of olive oil Not only does it contain antioxidants, but also good fats, called monounsaturated fatty acids. In Mediterranean countries, raw olive oil makes up the basis of all of their meals (including breakfast!).
As for alcohol, you can have a small glass of wine with dinner. Just remember to be modest; it is best to not to exceed around three glasses of wine per week.
We try our best to make our Omni Calculators as precise and reliable as possible. However, this tool can never replace a professional doctor's assessment. If any health condition bothers you, consult a physician.