Optometrist and Chair, Eye Health UK
The average life expectancy in the UK is 81 years. However, a healthy life expectancy is just 63 years. We think about how to protect ourselves from issues such as heart disease and cancer, but taking care of our vision also plays a vital role in helping us live well for longer.
Visual impairment doesn’t just make day-to-day life difficult, it’s also associated with poor mental and physical health, including increased risk of hip fracture, depression, anxiety and dementia. Poor eyesight is not inevitable. Research shows a quarter of over-75s who experience vision impairment merely needed a new eyewear prescription while 27% had easily treatable cataracts.
NHS eye care and available support
Regular eye tests are vital to ensure any prescription is up to date and eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, or conditions like dry eye, are detected early to ensure the most effective treatment. Eye tests are free on the NHS for many, including all over-60s. Vouchers towards the cost of prescription eyewear are also available for those on low incomes, as are ‘at-home’ eye tests for those with reduced mobility or psychological issues. Contact your local optician for details of eligibility for NHS eye care services.
Eye tests are free on the NHS
for many, including all over-60s.
Top tips for healthy eyes
There are lots of simple things you can do to keep your eyes healthy:
• Regular sight tests
• Quit smoking: Smokers are up to four times more likely to lose their sight than non-smokers
• Wear sunglasses: Cumulative UV exposure increases your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts
• Eat healthy: Eye-friendly nutrients in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight and relieve dry eye
• Watch your weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma
• Be active: Being physically active has been shown to reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58% versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle.
Be eye aware
Awareness that some common age-related health conditions carry an increased risk of vision impairment is low – only one in five (19%) Brits are aware of a connection between low vision and Parkinson’s and one in seven (16%) of a link with Alzheimer’s. Understanding these associations can help prevent avoidable sight loss and improve quality of life.