Of all the senses that the human body possess, sight is the one that many fear losing the most. Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and for many of them a simple eyesight test could help restore some of that lost vision.
It’s national eye health week this week so Health Shield want to help you with some hints and tips on how best to look after one of your most important senses. Last year’s campaign encouraged a transformation in people’s attitudes towards eye health and will again this year, focus on encouraging participation in regular eyesight tests.
An eyesight test is vital and can pick up the general health of your eyes spotting the signs of many eye conditions including glaucoma which, if spotted early enough, can be treated. It is especially important to have regular eyesight tests if you are aged over 60, have a learning disability or a family history of eye disease.
It is usual to have an eyesight test every two years.
What else can I do to look after my eyes?
- Eat healthy. A subject that is talked about in relation to everything – people forget how important a good diet is and how it affects everything in your life. Antioxidants can help to prevent damage to the eyes, in particular to the retina. Recommended foods include kale and spinach, bright veg like carrots and peppers, oily fish like tuna and salmon, broccoli and eggs.
- Regular exercise – particularly in those over the age of 60. This can affect your eyesight due to the narrowing of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Smoking – this increases your risks of developing cataract.
- Sun protection – Health Shield have covered the protection of your eyes from the sun in a recent blog but always remember the importance of sunglasses and the damage that can be done by the sun.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of age-related vision loss.
- Get glaucoma tested – An early diagnosis can save your vision. The eye drops that would be prescribed can prevent damage that might otherwise occur. You should do this if you are aged 40 or over, have a relative with glaucoma, are short sighted or diabetic.
- Take regular breaks from your PC – If you work in an office at a computer, you are increasing your chances of being short sighted. Make sure you take regular breaks away from the artificial light and glare from your computer screen.
- Be vigilant with in car air conditioning – The dry air can reduce the moisture in your eyes which is uncomfortable, and can put you at a greater risk of eye infections and ulcers. So aim it at your feet!
If you notice anything that could be a warning sign you must see your optician or GP immediately. However small you may think it is. This includes; double vision, hazy vision, difficulty in low light conditions, red eyes, frequent flashes of light, floaters, pain and swelling. To test yourself regularly you could cover one eye at a time, and look at a vertical line (graph paper is ideal). Any blurred vision or missing areas could be a sign that your eyes need some help! This does not replace the need for a visit to the opticians.
Whilst no one will ever go through life without any kind of sight issues, keeping on top of the health of your eyes will certainly decrease any risks.
Whilst we make every attempt to look after the eyesight of our children, did you know that spending time outdoors is good for your children’s eyesight? There is research from America that suggests for every hour they regularly spend playing outdoors, their risk of short sightedness decreases by 2%. So not only will they benefit their overall health and wellbeing by being outside, but their eyesight too.
Many members of Health Shield have access to an optical benefit where you are able to claim back the cost of an eye test, prescribed lenses and more. Please refer to your full membership plan in the Members’ Area before submitting a claim to ensure you are covered.