Tips to maintain good eye health
Around the world, at least 2.2 billion people have sight loss or blindness. And at least 1 billion have a condition that could have been prevented or has yet to be treated. There are things you can do to look after your eye health – here are some tips.
Updated March 2023
1. Have an eye test every two years
You should have a regular eye test (at least every two years) even if you aren’t wearing glasses. More than 50% of sight loss is preventable, so regular testing can prevent or limit the damage caused by certain eye conditions. For example, early detection of glaucoma enables appropriate monitoring and treatment and minuses the risk of irreversible visual field loss.
Regular check-ups are vital even if you have no symptoms because an eye test with an optometrist can spot other illnesses which aren’t related to sight. An eye test can reveal early symptoms of diabetes, brain tumours, heart disease, high blood pressure, MS, and other conditions.
If you have a parent, brother, or sister with glaucoma, then the advice is to have an eye test once a year (and the the NHS will cover the fee for the eye test
2. Look after your general health
Lifestyle choices can impact your eyes. Don’t smoke. As a smoker, you are twice as likely to lose sight as a non-smoker. Smoking can cause and worsen several eye conditions, some leading to permanent vision loss. For example, smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.
Smoking, excessive weight, and high blood pressure are all risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to sight loss.
So, a healthy lifestyle, including diet and regular exercise, is good for your eye health.
- Read more about the research we are funding into sight loss linked to other diseases. Could you help us to back a breakthrough?
3. Wear protective goggles
Wear safety glasses or protective goggles to protect your eyes from injury if you do DIY, gardening, or set off fireworks. Small pieces of metal, glass or wood can get embedded in the cornea at the front of the eye; these ‘foreign bodies’ are the second most common form of ocular trauma, with corneal abrasions being number one.
Ocular trauma is a significant cause of visual impairment worldwide. An estimated 19 million people worldwide have uniocular blindness from traumatic injury. If you experience an eye injury, such as a foreign body, seek help immediately by visiting your local hospital casualty department.
4. Check your family history
Your optometrist may want to know whether you have a family history of sight loss or eye conditions.
Leber congenital amaurosis is the most common form of childhood inherited blindness and affects two or three in every 100,000 newborn babies, eventually leading to blindness.
Fight for Sight-funded research has already led to pioneering gene therapies that are beginning to halt or reverse sight loss from inherited eye diseases, including Leber congenital amaurosis.
Research funded by Fight for Sight confirmed for the first time that specific variations in the AIPL1 gene cause a form of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA).
Ensure you share any genetic information with your optometrist or eye health professional.
5. Wear and care for protective eyewear
You should wear sunglasses to look after your eyes. Previous research by Fight for Sight found that one in two people were putting their eye health at risk by not wearing UV-protective sunglasses. The Association of Optometrists (AOP) confirms that many people are unaware that UV light can damage their eyes and skin.
The AOP points to research by the World Health Organisation that 20% of cataracts are related to exposure to UV light. In addition, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may develop sooner in people exposed to UV light.
Exposure to UV light can also increase the risk of pterygium (a benign, non-cancerous growth), pinguecula (a white or yellow bump on the white of the eye and photokeratitis (caused by short-term but high exposure to UV light).
The AOP recommends wearing eyeglasses with a UV filter that carry the CE quality mark and sit closer to the eye.
If you wear contact lenses, then make sure you look after them properly. Thoroughly wash and dry your hands before touching your contact lenses or eyes. Your lenses and their case should only be cleaned with the lens solution recommended by your optometrist. Always follow the instructions given to you by your optometrist or the lens manufacturer. The British Contact Lens Association provide a FAQ page with further advice.
6. Take regular screen breaks
A survey by Fight for Sight of 2,000 people in the UK found that half of people’s screen time increased following the pandemic – of these, 38% believe their eyesight has been affected as a result. This lead to difficulty reading, migraines and poorer night vision.
Try to adopt the ’20-20-20’ rule, which recommends that for every 20 minutes spent using a screen, you should try to look away at something 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Following the rule should reduce eye strain caused by looking at screens for too long.Read more about screen time and the pandemic