National Eye Health Week - How to look after your eyes

Posted: Monday 23 September 2019

"We all know how important it is to look after our bodies by exercising regularly and eating healthily, but how many of us really think about how to look after our eyes?

"Most people say eyesight is the sense they fear losing the most, but it’s something we often take for granted until it’s too late...

As part of National Eye Health Week award-winning optician Denise Voon has offered her advice on how to look after your eyes.

"Eye conditions such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and cataracts can affect our eyesight, particularly as we get older, but there are simple ways we can reduce the risk of developing these conditions in the first place, or stop them getting worse.

Eat healthily

"This has two benefits; firstly, foods which are naturally rich in lutein, vitamin C And E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of developing conditions such as AMD and cataracts.  If you already have AMD, you may benefit from specially formulated supplements which  have been shown to reduce the risk of some types of wet AMD by 25%. Whilst nutritional supplements may reduce the risk of AMD progression, it’s still important to have a good diet, and I recommend my patients have plenty of green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, and oily fish twice a week.

"The second benefit is that a good healthy diet can reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes which can also cause sight loss."

Wear sunglasses

"Sunlight, and in particular the UV in sunlight, can increase the risk of cataracts and AMD.  Even on a cloudy day there’s lots of UV light around, so ask your optician about UV blocking lenses and invest in a good-quality pair of sunglasses. Wraparound frames offer the most protection, and polarised lenses can help reduce glare.

Take regular breaks for concentrated tasks

"Prolonged reading, computer work or any concentrated near task can cause eyestrain and headaches so it is important to take regular breaks.  An important rule is the 20:20:20 rule which suggests that for every 20 mins for concentrated work, you need to look at something 20 meters away for 20 seconds  This helps prevent the eyes getting fatigued and strained.

Stop smoking

"In addition to the well-known general health problems such as heart and lung-disease, smoking significantly increases the risk of AMD, cataracts and glaucoma.  Current smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD compared with non smokers and tend to develop wet AMD 10 years earlier.  The good news is it’s never too late to stop, and if you are struggling to quit, contact your GP as there is lots of support to help you kick the habit.

Visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly

"Many eye conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, may only affect your vision in the later stages, so it is important to visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly to have the best chance of picking up these conditions early.  They can also offer easy solutions to irritating eye problems such as dry eye.

"It is important to keep your glasses prescription up-to-date, because an incorrect prescription can cause reduced vision and eyestrain.

"Looking after your eyes is just as important as looking after the rest of your health and following these simple tips should help your eyes feel comfortable and reduce the risk of developing certain eye diseases. 

"Fortunately, simple magnifiers and adjustments to lighting levels can make a big difference and advice can be sought from your optometrist or eye clinic.  And with the advances in technology your smart phone or tablet can be a real help.  Central vision loss does not have to be as debilitating as it once was and help and information can be found in many places including the Macular Society."

Denise Voon