Did you know that more than 2 million people in the UK have sight loss severe enough that it impacts their daily lives — and that half of this sight loss is avoidable?
None of us wants to lose our sight, but many of us also don’t know the best way to keep our eyes healthy.
That’s what National Eye Health Week (NEHW) — a campaign to promote good eye health — is all about.
Your eyes really are the windows to your health. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to keep your eyes healthy. As a bonus, following many of these tips will benefit your overall health.
1. Eat well
We all know that eating well is good for keeping fit and maintaining a healthy weight, but the food you eat can impact your eye health too.
You might remember hearing as a child that eating carrots would help you see in the dark. And, far from being just a way to get us to eat our vegetables, there’s a bit of truth to it!
Carrots are full of vitamin A, which is also a component of a protein in your eyes that helps you see in low-light conditions. This vitamin also helps keep your cornea (which covers the outside of your eye) clear.
But carrots aren’t the only food that can help keep your eyes healthy.
Loading your plate with dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and turnip gives you a healthy dose of antioxidants which can help protect against age-related degeneration of your vision.
Pair these with oily fish rich in omega-3 like sardines, mackerel and salmon to stave off dry eye syndrome, which can cause your eyes to feel sore and itchy.
2. Stop smoking
Smoking doesn’t just increase your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke; it also means you’re more likely to develop cataracts and suffer from macular degeneration.
Stopping smoking isn’t easy, but help is available.
3. Avoid too much screen time
With smartphones and computers offering the entire world at our fingertips, it’s easy to get sucked in. But staring at a screen for too long can cause a range of symptoms, from blurry vision and dry eyes to headaches and eye strain.
While you might not be able to avoid staring at a screen entirely, especially if you use a computer for work or to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, you can take steps to protect your eyes.
Consider these tips to keep your eyes healthy:
- Prop yourself up on cushions or adjust your laptop so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor — you should be looking slightly down at the screen.
- Reduce glare from lights and windows by dimming bright lights, adjusting blinds or curtains or using an anti-glare screen.
- Stay up to date with your glasses or contact lens prescription, and speak to your doctor about computer glasses or lenses if you have eye strain.
- Blink often to prevent dry eyes.
- Rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking away from your screen, and take a longer break every couple of hours to stand up, move around and get away from the screen.
4. Look after your contact lenses
Contact lenses are convenient for people who don’t want to wear glasses, but if you don’t keep them clean and replace them regularly, they can cause a nasty eye infection.
If you wear reusable contact lenses, take them out before falling asleep and disinfect them in your contact lens solution overnight. If you feel any pain,irritation, or your eyes are watery, take them out immediately. You should also replace your lenses with a new pair regularly — follow the guidance from your doctor or optician — even if they seem fine. Old lenses can tear easily and scratch the eye or cause an infection.
5. See if you’re at risk of eye disease
Your eyesight can deteriorate as you get older-( a condition called age-related macular degeneration). But other health conditions can also increase your risk of eye disease.
If you’re overweight, have a family history of eye disease, or have high blood pressure, it’s even more important to keep on top of your eye health. If you have diabetes, you may also develop diabetic retinopathy, which can cause vision loss. If you’re worried or would like some advice, get in touch with our Eye Clinic, where our specialist eye consultants are experts in diagnosing and treating a wide range of eye conditions.
6. Get a regular eye test
We don’t think twice about attending many work or personal appointments, but an eye test is easy to put off, especially if you don’t have any problems with your sight.
But a regular checkup is key to keeping your eyes healthy.
Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma, don’t present symptoms, but an eye test can detect them. This means you can begin treatment before you start having any problems.
An eye test can also help diagnose other health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
If you’re having problems with your vision, we can help with anything from cataracts to conjunctivitis. Get in touch and book an appointment at our private London Eye Clinic. You can call us on 020 7078 3848 or fill out an enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.