Our sight is precious. You only have to close your eyes for a moment to appreciate just how important your vision and eye health is. And, for 83% of us, sight is the sense we treasure most.
Yet, in Britain today, a million people are living with avoidable sight loss and experts predict, this number could rise by 40% by 2030. David Cartwright, Chair of Eye Health UK highlights some of the steps we should all be taking to help reverse this worrying trend.
Essential eye checks
Failing to have regular eye tests, once every two years (unless advised otherwise by your optometrist), is probably the biggest threat to eye health. Almost 14 million Brits (13.8) don’t have regular tests despite them being essential health checks.
According to research carried out for National Eye Health Week (24 – 30 September), 41% of those who don’t go for regular eye checks say they don’t bother because they know their eyes are fine.
But, good eyesight does not mean all is well. Gradual deterioration due to poor eye health can go unnoticed until there is a significant problem and sight has been irrecoverably lost.
Not only can an eye test detect eye conditions, such as glaucoma, years before you notice a change in your vision, they can also uncover signs of general health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, early signs of heart disease and even brain tumours.
Eye tests take around 30 mins and are often free
National Eye Health Week seeks to change this by raising awareness of the need to take care of your eyes and make eye tests as much a part of your healthcare regime as having a dental check-up.
A routine test takes around 30 minutes and for millions of us it’s absolutely free – paid for either by the NHS or employer.
Treating minor eye conditions
Your optometrist is also best placed for timely diagnosis and treatment of minor eye conditions. A new service currently being introduced in some areas, will see accredited opticians offering NHS appointments for conditions like conjunctivitis or dry eye.
Getting outdoors could be good for your eyes
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 can also help keep your eyes and vision healthy.
There is emerging evidence that spending more than two hours a day outdoors can reduce the risk of myopia, even if there is a family history of the condition.
For more information about National Eye Health Week and caring for your eyes go to www.visionmatters.org.uk or visit your local optician.