Eye Health Week 2021
It is National Eye Health week, running from 20th – 26th September. Taking place during the last full week of September every year, this event is organised by Eye Health UK, and is for the purpose of promoting good eye health and the importance of regular sight tests for everybody.
There are many positive lifestyle choices you can make to preserve good vision, and reduce your risk of eye damage or developing a sight-threatening eye condition.
You can help to keep your eyes healthy by:
1) Eating a healthy diet. Incorporating lots of fruit and veg and wholegrains into your diet will ensure you get lots of vitamins and antioxidants that might help to prevent age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration or cataracts. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, as well as brightly coloured fruit and vegetables like carrots and oranges.
Lutein is an antioxidant that is important to get into our diet, as it is beneficial to eye health. Lutein is found in the macula (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye), which is the central area of our retina responsible for vision.
Taking care of your diet will also help you to maintain a healthy weight, lowering the risk of obesity and related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness in adults.
Also try to include Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet such as oily fish contain, which can be beneficial in the treatment of dry eye, and for overall sight preservation. Supplements such as Krill or cod liver oil can help if you struggle to eat oily fish. Or if you are vegan algal oil is a great alternative.
2) Quit Smoking – Chemicals in tobacco can damage blood vessels behind the eye, and is associated with increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, and also cataracts. Kicking the habit is one of the best steps you can take when considering your eye health. You can call the NHS smoking helpline, or speak to your doctor/nurse or pharmacist. There is a lot of free help and advice out there.
3) Wear sunglasses – It is important to protect your eyes from the sun and exposure to ultraviolet light, which increases your risk of developing sight-threatening conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Never ever look directly at the sun, and ensure you wear quality sunglasses that bear the CE mark to know that they are providing enough UV protection.
4) Take regular exercise – Staying physically active can reduce the risk of visual impairment. Aerobic exercise boosts circulation and increases crucial oxygen supplies to the optic nerve. Exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
5) Get regular sight checks – A visit to the opticians and a sight test is about more than just checking your vision and correcting it with lens. A check on your eyes can detect other health conditions as well such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
A regular check on the heath of your eyes can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma, which if found early can be successfully treated and prevent potential sight loss. A sight test for most people should be carried out every 2 years.
6) Take screen time breaks – Remember the 20-20-20 rule when looking at a computer or phone screen for long periods. You should rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking away from the screen and focusing on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Staring at a screen for too long can lead to eyestrain, blurry vision, headache, shoulder/back/neck pain, dry eyes or trouble with focusing at a distance. Make sure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date, and use drops if your eyes are dry.
7) Use safety eyewear – Always wear safety glasses or goggles for protection when handling chemicals or undertaking dangerous tasks at work or around the house. Take extra care where hazardous or airborne materials could cause injury to, or has the potential to harm your eyes.
To support eye week, raise awareness, get involved, and to find out more information/details about events, you can visit the Vision Matters website here