National Eye Health Week!
This year’s National Eye Health Week (NEHW) will take place from 24 to 30 September 2018, promoting the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
Many people think that an eye test is just about checking whether your vision needs correcting. But there are other important reasons to have regular eye tests.
An eye test is a vital check on the health of the eyes and can detect a range of common eye conditions.
Many of these, if found early, can be treated successfully, avoiding potential sight loss.
An eye test can also spot other health conditions such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes and increased risk of stroke.
Who needs a regular eye test?
Everybody! Eye tests should be part of your health care routine just like going to the dentist.
And remember, children are never too young to have an eye check. Special tests have been devised to help optometrists examine even the youngest children.
How often should I have an eye test?
Most people should have their eyes checked every two years, unless advised otherwise by their optometrist.
Certain groups may need their eyes checked more frequently, including
people with a family history of glaucoma. Your optometrist will advise you.
Looking after your eyes
Regular sight tests are essential for maintaining healthy eyes but there are other things you can do to look after your eyes.
Studies show that what we eat can affect our vision. Antioxidants can help to prevent retinal damage. One anti-oxidant which is hugely beneficial is lutein.
Foods recommended for eye health include:
- Broad leaf greens such as kale and spinach
- Brightly coloured fruit and veg such as corn, carrots, orange sweet peppers and oranges
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel
Exercise and eyesight
Lack of exercise contributes significantly to several eye conditions, particularly amongst people aged 60 and over. Exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health conditions which can have a detrimental effect on your eye health.
After ageing, smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing macular degeneration.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing cataract.
Protecting your eyes from the sun is very important and should not be underestimated. Under no circumstances should you ever look at the sun directly. Your sunglasses should have the CE mark on them which ensures that they are giving you the right level of ultraviolet protection.
- I’ve been told that I can’t wear contact lenses because I have astigmatism. Is this true? There are many kinds of contact lenses available now which will correct astigmatism.
- If there is a history of glaucoma in my family, am I likely to inherit it? If there is glaucoma in the family, you may be more at risk of developing it. Glaucoma can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in time, so be sure to have regular eye tests.
- Will eating carrots improve my vision? Although it’s true that carrots are rich in Vitamin A which is important for a healthy diet and essential for sight so are many other foods. Foods containing eye-friendly nutrients include green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and citrus fruits
- I’m diabetic. Does that make a difference? Yes. Diabetes can cause severe problems with your sight. It is very important that your eyes are checked every year, preferably with drops to dilate the pupil, so that the retina (back of the eye) can be examined thoroughly.
- Is it true that wearing glasses all the time will make my eyes lazy and I will become dependent on them? No. When people wear eyewear with the correct prescription they realise they can see more clearly and comfortably. What they may have considered normal before is now inferior by comparison. Your vision will naturally deteriorate as you age.
- How old does a child have to be before he or she can have an eye test? Any age! A child does not need to be able to read before they have an eye test. It’s recommended that children have their eyes checked when they start school. If your local authority doesn’t provide school entry vision screening make an appointment at your local opticians. Your optometrist will then advise when your child should have their eyes tested again.
For more information on how you can look after your eyes please visit http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/