Eye health and maintaining good eyesight
Good eyesight plays an important role in your life, so it's important to follow these basic steps to keep your eyes healthy.
Get your eyes tested regularly
You should visit your optometrist to have your eyes tested every two years, or more frequently if advised. These tests can detect not only any problems with your vision or eyes, such as glaucoma, but also underlying health problems such as diabetes. You should seek advice if you have eye infections or symptoms of disease such as loss of, or blurred, vision, light flashes, eye pain, redness, itching, swelling or irritation around the eye or eyelid.
Practise eye disease prevention
Eye disease is the number one cause of blindness. Most diseases that cause blindness, like glaucoma and diabetes, can be treated or their progression slowed with proper diagnosis and management. While there is no cure for some eye conditions, there have been major medical advances for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. By visiting your optometrist on a regular basis, you can catch any eye problems at an early stage when they are easier to treat.
Protect your eyes from the sun
Constant exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light can damage your eyes. Too much exposure increases pigmentation in the eye, causing a discolouration known as "brown" or "sunshine" cataracts. Some eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, have also been linked to ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Buy good quality sunglasses - look for those carrying the CE mark and the British Standard BS EN 1836:2005 which ensures that they offer a good degree of UV protection.
Wear protective gear and eyewear for work and sport
Wearing safety glasses and protective goggles while playing sport or working with hazardous and airborne materials reduces the risk of eye injury, impaired vision and complete loss of sight.
How can I prevent vision problems?
Preventative eye care is the first line of defence against vision problems. Take these steps:
- Have regular eye examinations
- Know your family's history of any eye problems
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Wear durable eye protection when involved in sport, operating electric tools or using hazardous chemicals in the house or garden
- Avoid hazards such as fireworks
- Protect your eyes from the sun
Maintaining healthy eyesight also depends on getting sufficient vitamins and dietary nutrients. These nutrients play a key role in keeping the eye healthy and can help protect your eyes from infection and age-related problems. A well-balanced diet will provide most of what normal adults need. Vitamins A, C, and E are essential for good eyesight. Antioxidants can protect the retina from damage due to smoking, UV rays or alcohol. An antioxidant known as lutein is particularly beneficial. This is found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, and in yellow peppers and sweetcorn. In fact, a diet rich in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables offers the antioxidants essential for eye health.
Watch your weight, watch your blood pressure and watch your cholesterol. If you smoke: stop! Toxic cigarette smoke is linked to many serious eye conditions. Do everything possible to stay away from tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes and other kinds of polluted air. If you have diabetes, you need to have regular eye tests and carefully monitor your blood glucose levels.