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Vision and Eye Health 2019

Be clear about the importance of good eye care

iStock / Getty Images Plus / grki

David Cartwright

Optometrist and Chairman, Eye Health UK

Two thirds of us (67%) worry about our long-term eyesight.[1] It’s right that we should be concerned, according to new research by Optrex.

Research shows one in three people aged 60+ who miss out on regular eye examinations say the quality of their vision makes them feel depressed and vulnerable,[1] while other consequences of low vision in our advancing years include loss of independence and increased risk of falls.[2]

David Cartwright, optometrist and chairman of Eye Health UK – the charity responsible for National Eye Health Week (23 – 29 September) – explains why we should all be taking better care of our eye health.

While our visual acuity steadily declines and our risk of developing a sight-threatening eye condition increases as we age, there are some simple things we can do to prevent avoidable sight loss in the future.

Eye exams matter

Failing to have regular sight tests, once every two years unless advised otherwise by your optometrist, is probably the biggest threat to eye health. Almost 14 million Brits don’t have regular tests[3] despite them being essential health checks.

Not only can an eye exam detect eye conditions, such as glaucoma, year’s before you notice a change in your vision, they can also uncover signs of general health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and early signs of heart disease.

Eye exams take around 30 minutes and are usually free

An eye exam should be as much a part of your healthcare regime as having a dental check-up.

Routine sight tests take around 30 minutes and for millions of us they’re absolutely free – paid for either by the NHS or your employer.

Many local optical practices also now offer NHS appointments for conditions like conjunctivitis or dry eye.

Lifestyle counts towards optimal eye heatlh

Lifestyle choices pose another big threat to the nation’s eye health. Your diet, weight, activity levels and alcohol consumption can all affect your eye health.

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays and not smoking are also vital for good eye health.

Go outdoors to reduce your chances of short-sightedness

Evidence is also emerging to say that spending more than two hours a day outdoors can reduce the risk of myopia (short-sightedness), even if there is a family history of the condition.

It’s sometimes thought that if you are short-sighted you just need to get some glasses and you’ve solved the problem. However, myopia can be a risk factor for other eye conditions later in life and so it needs to be treated seriously.

Modern lives take their toll on our eyes

Busy lives mean not all of us get the essential nutrients our eyes need from eating a healthy balanced diet so, for some, supplements may be beneficial.

Intensive screen use is also causing more of us to experience Digital Eye Strain (sore, tired, itchy eyes; headache; temporary blurred vision, dry eyes and pain in the neck and shoulders).[4]

The Big Blink

That’s why we’re joining forces with Vision Express to launch the Big Blink during National Eye Health Week to encourage everyone to follow the 20-20-20 rule – look up from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds – when using digital devices.

For more information on looking after your eyes visit

1 Optrex eye health survey of 2,000 UK Adults conducted by One Poll between 13 – 16 August 2019 | 2 Sight After Sixty report, EHUK |3 Visual impairment increases the risk of suffering a fall by 2.5 times [Rubenstein and Josephson 2002] |4 Generation Eye Report, EHUK | 5 Atomik research | 6

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