This handy guide provides a brief introduction to some common eye conditions as well as top tips for maintaining and improving your eye health.
Ageing Eyes – Our vision steadily declines and our risk of developing a sight threatening eye condition increases as we age.
Blepharitis – occurs when the glands around your eyelashes become blocked or infected.
Mild blepharitis affects up to one in three people across the UK. Acute blepharitis can be extremely painful. Sufferers should seek advice from their optometrist or pharmacy.
Cataract – 26% of all cases of sight loss in people aged 75 and over is due to untreated cataracts, despite that fact that vision can be restored with a routine surgical procedure.
Domiciliary eyecare – anyone who is unable to visit a high street or optician unaccompanied is entitled to a free NHS sight test in their own home. www.opticalconfederation.org.uk/downloads/guidance/Sight_tests_at_home_WEB.pdf
Eyewear – ensure your prescription is up-to-date. Almost a third of all visual impairment in people aged 75+ is due to wearing the wrong glasses!
Contact lens wearers should follow their optometrist’s advice on wearing and caring for their lenses to prevent discomfort or infection.
Floaters – are little dots and tadpole-like shapes which appear in your vision. These are caused by age and general wear and tear. Occasionally this can be an early warning of a detached retina, so seek immediate advice if you notice a sudden increase in floaters.
Glaucoma – is a condition that affects the optic nerve and disturbs your peripheral vision. If left untreated it can lead to total sight loss.
Hay fever – ask your optometrist or local pharmacy about treatments for eye irritation caused by hay fever or other allergies.
Injuries – if you work with hazardous or airborne materials wear safety glasses or protective goggles to protect your eyes from injury.
Junior eyecare – your eyes continue to develop until about the age of 8 so regular sight tests in the early years are vital.
Keraconjunctivitis Sicca (or dry eye syndrome) – is the most common cause of eye irritation in people aged 65+. Consult your optometrist for advice on treating dry eye.
Low vision – everyone living with low vision is entitled to a Low Vision Aid provided by the NHS.
Macular degeneration – impairs your central field of vision and is Britain’s leading cause of blindness affecting over 600,000 people across the UK.
NHS entitlements – more than 30 million people in the UK are entitled to a free eye examination paid for by the NHS. Visit visionmatters.org.uk for more information.
Obesity – a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+ doubles your risk of suffering age-related macular degeneration and significantly increases your chances of developing cataracts.
Presbyopia – is a natural part of the ageing process. When you hit your mid 40′s you will find it more and more difficult to focus on close objects.
Quit smoking – Smoking is directly linked to blindness. Current smokers are 4 times more likely to develop macular degeneration compared to past smokers or non-smokers. Smoking is also associated with other eye diseases such as cataracts.
Retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in working age people in England, Wales and Scotland. Despite effective treatment, sight loss due to DR is still increasing.
Diabetics should ensure they have regular eye checks.
Sight tests – everyone should have their eyes checked every two years, unless advised otherwise by their optometrist.
Early diagnosis of eye conditions is key to successful treatment.
Tears – excessive tears are a common problem, particularly in babies and older people. A blocked tear duct is the most common cause, but there are a number of other causes. Consult your optometrist for advice.
UV protection – cumulative UV exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.
Look out for the CE or BS EN 1836:2005 marks when choosing sunglasses to ensure they provide adequate UV protection.
VDU -(or screen) users should follow the 20 – 20 – 20 rule.
To combat visual fatigue brought on by prolonged screen use focus on something 20 meters away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
Water – dehydration can lead to dry, sore and irritated eyes. So ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day for optimum eye health.
eXercise – aerobic exercise reduces intraocular “eye” pressure which can help control conditions such as glaucoma and other ocular hypertension.
Brisk walks, cycling and swimming are all excellent ways to reduce intraocular pressure and maintain healthy eyes.
DIY – every year around 30,000 people are admitted to hospital with a serious eye injury sustained whilst carrying out home improvement projects and hundreds of thousands more suffer superficial eye injuries.
Make sure you protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles.
Zinc – is a key nutrient required for good eye health.
Studies have shown that nutrients in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E may help to prevent age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods containing eye-friendly nutrients include green leafy vegetables, oily fish and citrus fruits.
Taking nutritional eye health supplements may be beneficial. Consult your optometrist, GP or pharmacist for advice.
For more advice and information about eye health visit – visionmatters.org.uk and follow on twitter@myvisionmatters