This month’s World Sight Day is the perfect opportunity to focus on making sure you have a clear vision
How’s life looking to you? Chances are that it may be a bit fuzzy these days – and it’s nothing to do with having too many glasses of the red or white due to spending more enforced time at home. With opticians closed in the pandemic, lockdown has affected people’s sight just as it has so many other health-related issues.
Newly-released figures reveal some shocking numbers. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, globally at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment that may not have been addressed. That figure could have been halved with the correct action. The Agency also calculates millions of people are living with eye conditions that increase the risk of sight loss.
Here in the UK, the College of Optometrists reports that 86 per cent of Brits value sight more than any other sense – yet nearly one in five (more than seven million people) has either never been for a sight test or to an optometrist in the last five years. The College also reveals that more than 60 per cent of people across the age range have poor vision, with 50 per cent unable to even see the TV or read a book clearly.
The need to focus on the health of our eyes is at the heart of this month’s World Sight Day on Thursday 8 October which seeks to bring global attention to vision impairment and blindness. To mark the day, we looked at the key actions you should take to help make sure your eyesight stays sharp.
Most of us should have an eye test at least once every two years. This can often pick up the first signs of an eye condition before you notice any changes in your vision – so you get vital treatment at the right time.
If you smoke, don’t! Smoking can double the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of sight loss. The risk is potentially as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer.
WEIGHT FOR IT
Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help delay the progression of cataracts. Oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also help prevent and slow down some eye conditions. Obesity can increase the risk of developing diabetes, which in turn can cause sight loss.
UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can harm your eyes. Wear sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses with built in UV filter will protect your eyes. Only buy sunglasses that have a CE mark or carry British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1.
DIY causes thousands of eye related injuries each year. Always wear approved safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and particles. If you’re playing racquet sports, wear proper sports goggles too.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Cataracts are a very common condition that tend to affect people as they get older. The lens in your eye becomes cloudy – as though you are looking through a fogged-up window. You may find your glasses prescription changing and you experience glare at night from headlights or difficulty reading in dim light. If the cataracts begin to affect your lifestyle you can have them removed during a routine operation.
The other condition most will have heard of is glaucoma. It is painless and causes no symptoms in the early stages, so regular eye examinations are important to spot the condition. It is usually caused by high pressure inside the eye that causes damage to the delicate nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause a serious reduction in your peripheral vision, affecting things like your ability to drive.