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Taking a look at healthy eyes
Posted on 23 Sep 2020
Many of us don’t know how to look after our eyes or how regularly we should be having our eyes tested. This National Eye Health Week (21-27 September 2020), local NHS organisations in north Warwickshire, Coventry and Rugby are suggesting some small lifestyle changes which could make a big difference to your eye health.
Across the UK, 2 million people are living with sight loss that significantly impacts their daily lives. But half of this sight loss is avoidable.
Dr Imogen Staveley GP and Deputy Chair at NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Many people think that a sight test is just about checking whether you need glasses or contact lenses. But it’s also a vital check to see if your eyes are healthy – just like having regular check-ups at the dentist.
“During a sight test, it’s possible that other health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can be detected – as well as eye conditions like glaucoma, which can be treated successfully if found early enough.”
The NHS recommends that you should get your eyes tested every two years, but if you have a family history of eye conditions, you may be advised to be tested more frequently. To arrange a sight test, contact your local optician.
Many people don’t realise it, but your diet and lifestyle can affect the health of your eyes:
- Eat right: Eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables and fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight. Eating just one portion of fish a week can reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration by up to 40%.
- Quit smoking: Smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers, due to the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke.
- Get fit: Aerobic exercise can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye. Staying active may also reduce the risk of sight loss and other complications from these conditions, once they develop.
- Cover up: Exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Wear sunglasses with the CE, British Standard or UV 400 mark.
- Take screen breaks: If you’re using a computer for long periods of time, it’s common to find your eyes feel tired or irritated, your vision is blurred or you get headaches. Use the 20-20-20 rule: look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
Dr Sarah Raistrick, GP and Chair at NHS Coventry and Rugby CCG added: “If you’re concerned about any aspect of your vision, contact your optician or GP at any time. The NHS is here for you, but due to COVID-19, some services may operate a little differently to keep patients and staff safe. If you are asked to attend an appointment, please do so – but remember to wear a face covering and to reschedule if you have any coronavirus symptoms.”
For more about National Eye Health Week, visit www.visionmatters.org.uk. The site also has an 'eye health calculator' – a questionnaire you could complete to find out if you could be doing more to keep your eyes and vision healthy.
 Future Sight Loss UK (1): The economic impact of partial sight and blindness in the UK adult population, Access Economics PTY Ltd, June 2009
 Chua, B., et al., Dietary fatty acids and the 5-year incidence of age-related maculopathy. Archives of Ophthalmology, 2006. 124(7): p. 981-986
 Smoking and age-related macular degeneration. British Journal of Ophthalmology. January 2006.