The 2016 National Eye Health Week is taking place this week (19 – 25 September) as we see eye care charities and health professionals come together to promote the need for regular eye sight tests for all and the importance of maintaining optimum eye health. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), half of all sight loss is avoidable which is why we’ve put together a 5-step guide on how best to look after your sight.
• 1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss. For 53% of these, a simple sight test and new spectacles could really help.*
• An eye sight test can detect early signs of conditions like glaucoma, which can be treated if found soon enough
• During a sight test, other health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure may be detected.
• For healthy eyes, eat well, don’t smoke and wear eye protection in bright sunlight.
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables a day, lots of whole grain and fresh fish weekly. Avocado, peppers, carrots, spinach, blueberries, eggs an oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are all fantastic eye benefitting foods to include in your meal plans.
Exercise regularly. Regular excercise has been shown to reduce pressure in the eye as well as reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly in heavy smokers who have also neglected their diet, is known to cause a toxic, progressive optic neuropathy. Typically this causes bilateral, symmetrical, painless, visual impairment with loss of colour vision and a central visual field defect.
Many don’t realise that the relationship between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer. After ageing, smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing macular degeneration as well as increasing the risk of developing cataracts.
Protect from UV.
Protecting your eyes from the sun should never be underestimated. Looking directly at the sun can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and even blindness. Over exposure to the sun has also been suggested as a risk factor for developing cataracts. When buying sunglasses, ensure they carry the CE mark and the British Standard BS EN mark which offer safe levels of protection.
Together with the 5 step guide above, we can’t stress enough the importance of annual eyesight tests, read on below to find out why.
Avoidable sight loss – Prevention is key
Many serious eye conditions including Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy can be picked up in eye tests before you notice physical symptoms of vision loss. If detected early, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be managed to prevent vision loss further down the line. Routine eye tests can also detect other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Make an eye test part of your annual health routine today – book a sight test with your local optometrist!
Sharon Petrie, Interim Director of Fundraising at Fight for Sight, said: “National Eye Health Week draws attention to the importance of regular eye tests, the best ways for people to look after their eyes and has plenty of useful resources everyone can benefit from”.
Who are Fight for Sight?
Fight for Sight, funds pioneering eye research into conditions such as; age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, corneal disease, and rare eye conditions, is supporting the week-long initiative which will shine a spotlight on a number of themes relating to eye health including; general eye health, children’s eye health and sight after sixty.
Sources: visionmatters.org.uk, fightforsight.org.uk, raconteur.net