Around 50 percent of sight loss can be avoided, yet the number of individuals needlessly living with the condition keeps growing at an alarming rate. A recent report published by the London Assembly Health Committee links poor eye health with a wide range of other conditions including heightened anxiety, depression and vulnerability to falls. A growing population and an over-burdened NHS have also made the rising prevalence of eye diseases hard to manage and treat. The rise in first-time eye health appointments has created a knock-on impact on specialised clinics and made it challenging for them to schedule consultations and timely follow-ups. Sight loss has an enormous impact on an individual’s quality of life and experts have estimated it costs the economy around £28 billion a year. Preserving our eye health and preventing sight loss has never been more important.
Caring for your eyes
We’re all guilty of taking our eyes for granted, but there are a few steps we can all take to ensure our sight remains in good condition for as long as possible.
Eating well is a major one; consuming omega 3s, lutein, zinc and various vitamins is known to ward off age-related sight conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Fill your plate with leafy greens, oily fish, eggs, nuts, oranges and pork to benefit from all these sight-saving nutrients.
Smoking makes an individual more likely to develop cataracts and is also damaging to the optic nerve. Quit for good—it will benefit your overall health, not just your eyes.
Protecting your eyes with sunglasses might seem like an obvious preventative measure, but many don’t own pairs that block out harmful UVA and UVB rays. Speak to an optician to find out which glasses are best. Similarly, use safety eyewear if you come into contact with hazardous materials in your workplace or practice sports like hockey. Nowadays, most jobs require us to look at a computer screen for long periods of time. Look away from bright screens every now and again to limit the strain they can cause to your eyes as well as avoid conditions like Dry Eye Syndrome, neck pain and recurring headaches. If you wear prescription glasses or contacts, make sure they are good for looking at bright screens.
Exercising frequently, especially if you’re aged 60 or over, can reduce the risk of sight loss occurring due to the narrowing of arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Cutting down on alcohol consumption is another easy to way to care for your eyes. Alcohol can lead to a host of serious health conditions which can have a detrimental effect on eye health.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to our eye health. Dry Eye Syndrome, one of the most common eye health complaints, can occur when our eyes lose the ability to produce enough tears. A good night’s sleep allows us to rest the eyes and the important lipid layer on their surface to recover. Failure to get enough rest may leave the eyes feeling dry or looking puffy and sore.
Planning regular visits to your eye doctor will ensure any developing conditions are caught early and managed correctly.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia are some of the most common eye health complaints—also known as refractive errors. To individuals with myopia, objects up close appear clearly while objects far away seem blurry. Hyperopia—or farsightedness—causes the opposite effect. Astigmatism is a condition where the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, causing images to appear blurry. Presbyopia, perhaps the most common, is an age-related condition that affects most adults over the age of 35. It causes individuals to lose the ability to focus on objects up close.