Looking after your eyes
Over half of all sight loss is due to preventable or treatable causes. With an estimated two million blind and partially sighted people living in the UK, this means that a million people are currently living with sight loss that could have been prevented. The recommended maximum time between tests is two years - unless advised otherwise by an optician.
Top ten tips for protecting your eyesight
Follow our top ten tips to protect your eyesight and prevent any problems arising in the future. If you can't follow all these tips then make sure you do one thing, visit your optician and have a regular eye test.
1. Wear sunglasses
Ultra violet light from the sun's rays can cause damage to your eyes. To reduce risks always wear a pair of sunglasses when outside in the sun. Check your shades have a UV factor rating and carry the CE mark which indicates that they meet European safety standards.
2. Take regular screen breaks
If you use a computer, take frequent breaks from your screen - at least one an hour. Resting your eyes can avoid headaches, eyestrain, soreness and double vision. Download the Action fuchsia dot below, print it off and use it when working at your computer.
3. Eat the right food
Some foods can help prevent eye conditions; like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These foods all contain either lutein or zeaxanthin and are found in many fruit and vegetables including: kiwi, mango, squash, broccoli, green beans, and spinach.
4. Know your family eye history
Glaucoma is a condition which causes vision to become patchy and may lead to tunnel vision. Detected early, it can be treated and controlled. Glaucoma can be hereditary (although it may skip generations) so if members of your family have the condition, go and get yourself tested.
5. Clean your contact lenses
Only use commercially prepared solutions for contact lens care and never use tap or distilled water, or saliva. If you don't stick to a strict cleansing routine your eyes can become infected and you risk corneal disease, or even the loss of an eye. You should never borrow or use anybody else's contacts and never sleep in your contacts unless advised you can by the optometrist.
6. Wear safety glasses
Cleaning, DIY or gardening can be hazardous to your eyes as chemicals, garden debris, or nails and splinters can all cause injury. Consider wearing safety goggles.
7. Take care with cosmetics
Be careful when using eye make-up remover or any other cream around your eyes. Also, close your eyes or turn away when spraying cosmetics like perfume or hairspray.
8. Know your first-aid
Never guess about the severity of an eye injury. Seek medical attention as soon as possible following an injury, particularly if you have pain in the eye, blurred vision, or loss of vision.
Although the majority of diabetics never experience any eye problems at all, people who have diabetes are at risk of losing vision through a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
10. Visit your Optician
More than half of all sight loss is avoidable if the cause is caught early. It is recommended that people have an eye test every two years – which is free to anyone under 16 or over 60 - but research shows that one in four of us fail to do this.
A regular eye test can identify any early indications of diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and age related macular degeration. An eye test can also identify other problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure for which the optometrist can refer you back to a GP.
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Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve is damaged leading to sight loss. In the UK, glaucoma affects two in 100 people over the age of 40.Visit the Glaucoma page
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