Health and wellbeing top the list of priorities for most people at the start of the year, but as most focus on their minds and bodies, what about better eye health? As gym memberships go through the roof and the nation kick starts their ‘healthy eating’ plans, experts provide new advice on how to take better care of our eyes in 2020, as well as our bodies, highlighting how our lifestyles means we need to be taking greater care than ever before.
Why make looking after your eyes a health priority for 2020?
Modern lifestyles are having a greater impact on eye health than ever before. From screens to sunshine – our eyes are having to work extremely hard, and aren’t getting the TLC they deserve.
Recent figures released by the IAPB (International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness) have revealed that eye-related health issues in the UK are set to reach epidemic proportions within just 30 years, yet as many as 50% of cases related to vision impairment could be avoided with better eye care.
By 2050, it is predicted that the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to over four million due to undiagnosed or mismanaged eye conditions, but this number can be significantly reduced with proper eye care.
1: Put vision first in 2020
Essilor.co.uk, a leading corrective lens manufacturer, is spearheading a drive to increase awareness of the state of the nation’s eye health and is encouraging people to put their vision first and undergo regular eye health checks to help avoid vision impairment.
Dr. Andy Hepworth from Essilor.co.uk says: “It’s not just the older generation who need to take better care of their eyes. It is now thought that lifestyle is having a big impact.
“Around 70% of adults now need corrective lenses, which is an incredibly significant number. But as well as corrective lenses, new innovations in the field mean non-prescription lenses can now offer significant health benefits to meet the lifestyle needs of modern living, easing eye issues and protecting the eyes from damaging external factors, such as digital screens and blue or UV light.
“Poor eye health has been linked to issues including low productivity at work and difficulty participating in social situations, both of which can have a significant impact on our quality of life and mental wellbeing.
“It is imperative we as a nation understand what warning signs to look out for when it comes to the health of our eyes and seek professional help when needed.”
2: Use These Top Tips For Eye Health
Up to half of sight loss cases are avoidable, just by looking after the eyes properly.
Essilor.co.uk has devised a list of tips to keep on top of your eye health and show how to spot the warning signs early on.
• Maintain a healthy diet and weight: It is recommended to include plenty of omega-3 fats and lutein for optimum eye health. Omega-3 can be found in fish such as salmon and tuna, while lutein is found in dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Vitamins A, C and E can also help to maintain healthy eyes and vision. Smoking is also detrimental to vision, increasing the risk of cataracts and damage to the optic nerve. Quitting smoking will significantly reduce these risks.
• Be aware of family health history: many eye conditions can be hereditary; long and short sightedness can run in the family, as can more severe conditions such as glaucoma. If vision problems occur in the family tree, more regular eye examinations would be necessary to help detect conditions before they become more serious.
• Protect eyes from UV and blue-violet light: overexposure to UV and blue-violet light can have a negative impact on vision, with both responsible for causing the most external damage to eyesight. Both are emitted from the sun, but blue-violet light is also produced from LEDs. UVA rays from the sun can pass through the cornea of your eye and onto the retina, leading to a number of health conditions including cataracts and premature eye ageing. Blue-violet light has recently been identified as causing damage to retinal cells. Corrective and non-prescription lenses can both be enhanced to filter out harmful light using lens coatings and embedded filtration systems. When buying sunglasses, it’s important to check that they block 100% of UVA and UVB light, and that they carry the CE or British Standard marks of quality.
• Implement 'digital device downtime': the increased use in digital devices with pixelated screens impact on eyesight. CVS - Visual fatigue is becoming increasingly common in the UK and is exasperated by looking at digital screens where the pixels constantly refresh, causing the eyes to constantly refocus to see clearly. Eye strain can be reduced by following the 20-20-20 rule (take a break from screens every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds). Invest in a lifestyle lens: Visual fatigue and eye strain can also be helped by using special lenses, designed to reduce and prevent eye strain by stopping the eyes from working so hard. Introducing lenses that are optimised for the work environment or lifestyle requirements can result in significant improvements in eye health.
• Schedule in regular eye examinations: eyes should be tested every two years as routine; many eye problems will be detected this way – the earlier problems are identified, the easier they will be to rectify.
Recognise changes in vision or appearance of eyes: Some symptoms can be an early indicator of eye afflictions, so understanding the warning signs can help identify potential issues. Conditions such as vison fatigue, short and long-sightedness, cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can be identified by one or a combination of the following symptoms:
· Tired, itchy eyes mid to late on in the day
· Frequent/persistent headaches
· Blurry vision or trouble focussing on finer details
· Excessive eye pain
· Tenderness in or around the eye
· Redness in the eye
· Seeing halos around light
· Colours appearing faded
· Double vision
· Visual distortions or hallucinations
· Problems with peripheral vision
Although some eye conditions can’t be prevented, early identification can ensure proper care, treatment and management is introduced.
3: Do These Eye Exercises At Home
It is recommended that a qualified optician conducts a full eye examination, but there are some quick DIY tests you can do at home that can help determine the general health of your eyes.
• Focus on something 20 feet away – if you have to squint to focus, the object is blurry or fine details can’t be made out, an eye test will be able to determine if you are short sighted.
• Pick up a book or a magazine (not a digital screen) – if, when holding it 30cm away from your eyes, the words appear blurry or your eyes feel strained reading, an eye test will reveal if you are long sighted.
• Tired, itchy, dry eyes? Computer vision syndrome (CVS) might be the culprit. Looking at digital screens without a break every 20 minutes can lead to CVS. An eye examination can tell if you need non-prescriptive protective lenses.
"Its not just the older generation who need to take better care of their eyes. It is now thought that lifestyle is having a big impact. "
Dr Andy Hepworth