Vision Matters. That’s the banner for this year’s National Eye Health Week (NEHW), promoting the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all – and we couldn’t endorse this message more!
Running all this week (18th-24th September), NEHW aims to raise awareness and communicate the importance of good eye health, encouraging people from all walks of life to take better care of their eyes.
Seeing The Bigger Picture
Did you know there are 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss, classified as severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives?
The good news is, however, that half of this sight loss is avoidable and preventable with the practice of good eye health.
A sight test, for example, can detect early signs of conditions such as glaucoma, which can be treated if detected soon enough.
Other positive life choices such as eating well, limiting alcohol consumption and wearing eye protection in bright sunlight are all proven factors that contribute towards maintaining healthy eyes.
Let us look at the most recommended practices in promoting good eye health, and the small changes that can make a big difference!
Many people assume that a sight test is simply checking whether you can read the tiny letters on the other side of the room, but there are numerous benefits to attending regular sight tests.
In a nut shell, a sight test is a vital check on the overall health of the eyes, not just whether your vision needs correcting with glasses or contact lenses.
Importantly, the test also includes the detection of eye conditions, many of which, if found early, can be treated successfully, avoiding potential sight loss.
As technology has advanced, sight tests can now also detect other health conditions not exclusively related to eye health, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
NEHW advocates regular sight tests (at least once every two years is advised) as the #1 essential tip for maintaining healthy eyes.
Remember, it’s easy to neglect your eyes because they rarely hurt when there’s a problem. That’s why it’s important to attend regular tests, to make sure everything is in check!
Studies have shown that what we eat can affect our vision. Antioxidants such as lutein for example, found in green leafy vegetables and eggs, can help to prevent retinal damage. Adversely, a poor diet can ultimately put your sight at risk.
Awareness of the link between diet and good eye health, however, remains low – a recent survey found 60% of people living in the UK had no idea that what they eat can affect the health of their eyes.
Luckily, there is a wealth of options available to ensure your eyes get everything they need. These foods include –
- Broadleaf greens such as kale and spinach, which are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. These carotenoids may also reduce discomfort from glare and enhance visual contrast.
- Brightly coloured fruit and veg such as corn, carrots, oranges, sweet peppers and papaya (the latter of which is a good source of beta carotene, which can help to prevent ‘free radical’ damage inside the eye).
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel (research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week may reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of blindness – by up to 40%)
- Eggs, which are rich in cysteine, sulphur, lecithin, amino acids and lutein. Sulphur may also help protect the lens of the eye from cataracts.
- Soy, which contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, Vitamin E and natural anti- inflammatory agents. Vitamin E is important for the maintenance of good eye health.
You may not have thought it, but studies show that exercise plays a big factor in reducing the risk of sight loss.
Research demonstrates that a lack of exercise contributes significantly to several eye conditions, particularly amongst people aged 60 and over.
Engaging in regular exercise, however, may reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
We’re taught from a young age to never look directly at the sun, and with good reason! Doing so can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight, and even lead to blindness. Several studies also suggest sunlight exposure is a risk factor for cataracts.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself from the sun and UV rays.
A wide-brimmed hat or sunglasses can help protect your eyes from UV rays, for example.
However, it’s important to check that your eyewear is offering you the right level of protection. All of our sunglasses at SelectSpecs come with the internationally recognised CE mark, which ensures that they are giving you the right level of ultraviolet protection.
Research shows that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of early age-related macular degeneration.
As such, men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. Spreading your drinking over three or more days will also help, or if trying to cut down, try having several drink-free days each week.
Limiting your alcohol intake will help to minimise your risk of macular degeneration.
Research shows that smokers are much more at risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, compared with non-smokers.
After ageing, smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing macular degeneration. Cutting back, or even better quitting, will significantly lower this risk.
With many jobs requiring prolonged screen use, many of us are at risk of developing ‘screen fatigue’. This can leave eyes feeling sore, itchy and tired. There is a very simple solution that you can follow, however, that your eyes will thank you for!
Follow the easy to remember 20-20-20 rule – look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds and focus on objects 20 feet away. This helps combat the effects of screen fatigue, and helps keep your eyes in tip-top shape!
Your Vision Matters!
While there are various factors that contribute towards healthy eyes, the number one message to take from NEHW week is to book regular sight tests!
Why not book your sight test with us at our flagship store?
Based in the picturesque Westgate-On-Sea (close to the stunning Kent coastline and surrounded by coffee shops and bakeries, perfect for a spot of lunch!), our store features over 500 budget and designer frames on display, with friendly staff on hand to guide you through your purchase.
And, when you have your eyes tested at SelectSpecs, we’ll give you a free pair of prescription glasses complete with all essential coatings, with no hidden costs!
For everything, you need to know about the most common eye conditions click here to check out our eye health hub!
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