This National Eye Health Week (18- 24 September) eye health experts are warning that one million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to leave them unable to do things such as drive.
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB’s) State of the Nation’s Eyes Report 2017 revealed this number is forecast to increase by a third by 2030 if we don’t take action now.
Almost 14 million of us fail to have regular eye tests, however not having regular eye tests, once every two years unless advised otherwise by an optometrist, is a big risk factor for unnecessary sight loss as the early detection and treatment of common eye conditions is essential to avoid irreversible sight loss.
David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week, explains: “Eyesight declines as part of the natural ageing process and some cases of sight loss are still sadly unavoidable but for many simply going for regular eye tests and adopting a healthier lifestyle could prevent sight loss having a significant impact on our lives and help people to live well for longer.”
“Over the next seven days National Eye Health Week will seek to inspire people to make small lifestyle changes that could make a big difference to their future eye health,” David said.
National Eye Health Week’s six simple savers:
Quit smoking. Smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers as toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the eye leading to an increased risk of many eye conditions.
Eat right for good sight. Eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables and fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight. Vitamins B and E can help protect against cataracts whilst Omega-3 fish oils help maintains healthy blood vessels in the eye.
Watch your weight. More than half of all British adults are overweight. Obesity puts you at increased risk of eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Get fit. Aerobic exercises can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye. Reducing the pressure can help control conditions such as glaucoma.
Cover up. Exposure to UV light can increase your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract. Always wear sunglasses when the UV index rises above three and check your sunglasses filter is at least 99 per cent of UVA and UVB light. Look out for a CE or British Standard or UV 400 mark when choosing your sunglasses as this indicates they provide adequate UV protection.
Be screen smart. On average, we spend more than eight hours a day staring at a screen so it’s no surprise that 90 per cent of us say we experience screen fatigue – tired or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and poor colour perception. Avoid eye strain by using the 20-20-20 rule, especially if you’re using a computer for long periods of time. Look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
Don’t forget to book an eye test during National Eye Health Week if you haven’t had one in the last two years!