Eye know: New Year changes to your health habits could help save your sight
Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity, has some top tips for keeping your eyes healthy. That’s right, as part of your New Year fitness regime (and who doesn’t make plans to have one of those?) you can do things to keep your eyes healthy. Given that sight is the sense people fear losing the most, and that many people don’t realise you can actively look after your sight, it makes sense to have a look at Fight for Sight’s top tips.
Have regular check-ups
Have your eyes tested every two years, even if your vision seems fine. An eye test can also spot some symptoms of illnesses not related to your sight. Regular check-ups are vital even if you have no symptoms. Regular eye tests should be a part of everyone’s normal healthcare routine.
Protect your eyes - even in winter - when it’s sunny or when in high glare areas such as near snow or water. The CE or BS EN 1836:2005 marks indicate that sunglasses provide a safe level of protection from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Ongoing UV exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.
Keep fit and healthy
Being fit and well can actually help your eyes stay healthy. Maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure can help with eye health.
Find out your family eye health history
Talk to your relatives about your family eye health history. Some eye conditions have genetic links which increase your risk of developing them. Share this information with your optometrist or eye health professional.
Take care of your contact lenses
If you wear contacts, look after them properly. Thoroughly wash and dry your hands before touching your contact lenses or your eyes. Your lenses and their case should only ever be cleaned with the lens solution recommended by your optometrist. Always follow the instructions given to you by your optometrist or the lens manufacturer.
Smoking is harmful to your eyes and can increase the risk of sight loss. Current smokers are 2 - 4 times more at risk of developing macular degeneration than people who have never smoked.
Protect your eyes
Don’t look directly at the sun. The ultraviolet light from the sun is powerful and the delicate parts of your eyes can be damaged by the sun much more quickly. Sunlight can flood your retinas, overstimulating the rods and cones that sense light and cause them to release chemicals that can damage the retinas.
Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from injury if you work with hazardous or airborne materials. This applies at home too, if you’re doing DIY or gardening.
Make sure your diet includes nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E. These may help to prevent or delay age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Recommended foods for general good health include green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and citrus fruits.
Avoid recreational drugs
There is evidence to suggest that some recreational drugs can cause sight loss – particularly alkyl nitrites, also known as poppers.
If you’d like to know more about eye health or about a particular eye condition, visit the Fight for Sight web site: https://www.fightforsight.org.uk/about-the-eye/ Information from Fight for Sight can also be found on social media - look for Fight for Sight UK on Facebook and on Twitter.
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Elaine Cooper, Head of Press and PR, direct line: 020 7264 3910, press office mobile: 07921 828662
Notes to editors:
Fight for Sight is the leading UK charity dedicated to funding pioneering research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease.
Fight for Sight’s overall research commitments amount to £8m for over 159 research projects at 44 different universities and hospitals across the UK.
Fight for Sight is funding research to stop sight loss caused by both common and rare eye diseases and conditions. These include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, inherited eye diseases and the causes of childhood sight loss. Research that has been funded by Fight for Sight has resulted in:
• the identification of new genes responsible for glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, keratoconus and other corneal disorders, and Nance-Horan syndrome
• the world’s first clinical trial of a treatment (a gene therapy) for choroideremia, an inherited condition that causes blindness in men
• the design of a new test that can detect the early stages of sight loss in age-related macular degeneration
Fight for Sight social media:
https://www.facebook.com/fightforsightuk or https://twitter.com/FightforsightUK