Eye Health

Keeping your eyes healthy is about more than getting a regular eye examination (although that helps!).

A-Z of eyes

This information is for interest only, it does not replace a full eye examination from a professional optician.

AgeAge-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of adult blindness in the developed world. The macula is the central part of the retina at the back of the eye, and is responsible for picking up detailed visual information, such as reading words on a page, or sewing. It wears out naturally as we get older, resulting in poorer vision.
Obesity speeds up the onset of AMD, and there is little treatment for the condition.
CataractsA cataract is a gradual thickening that develops in the lens of the eye. Cataracts are largely treatable, but one in four cases of sight loss in people over the age of 75 is due to cataracts.
Obesity can double your risk of developing cataracts.
ChemicalsIf you work with chemicals, you should wear appropriate eye protection (see also safety)
DiabetesDiabetic retinopathy is a serious eye condition associated with diabetes. The network of blood vessels within the retina can allow fluid or blood to leak into the retina and damage it.
DietA good diet is good for your eyes as well as for your general wellbeing.

A diet rich in anti-oxidants is beneficial for your eyes.

Two types of anti-oxidants in particular, called Lutein and may help with eye health may reduce your risk of developing AMD.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found naturally in vegetables and fruit. For example, Lutein can be found in yellow peppers, mango, bilberries, and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard and broccoli.

Zeaxanthin can be found in orange sweet peppers, broccoli, corn, lettuce (not iceberg), spinach, tangerines, oranges and eggs.

There is more information on the benefits of these anti-oxidants for eye health on the RNIB website here and on the NHS website here
ExerciseExercise can be important for your eyes, as well as the rest of your body.

Poor circulation affects the blood vessels in the eyes and exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss that can occur from high blood pressure, diabetes and the narrowing or hardening of the arteries.
The eyeeye-diagram
Eye examinationsIt is recommended that you visit an optometrist every two years (or more frequently if advised to do so).

An eye examination can detect potentially blinding eye conditions such as glaucoma, or underlying health problems such as diabetes. The earlier the problem is detected, the faster it can be treated.
ObesityA report published by the Royal National Institute of Blind People identified a direct link between obesity and some common eye conditions that cause blindness:

• Age-related macular degeneration

• Cataracts and

• Diabetic retinopathy
Office workIf you use a computer all day, you should take regular screen breaks, ensure that you have adequate lighting and wear appropriate glasses.
SafetyAppropriate eye protection can be vital:

• In the workplace. Particularly if you work with hazardous chemicals or using pressing, grinding or welding equipment;

• Around the home. Wear safety goggles for sawing, sanding or drilling to prevent particles entering your eyes and check the safety instructions when using chemicals;

• Outside the home. Wear safety goggles to use outdoor equipment such as strimmers, chainsaws etc. to prevent injuries.

• Playing sports. Some sports, such as squash, recommend eye protection while you are playing.
SmokingAccording to the NHS, research shows that smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD compared with non-smokers.

Smokers are also about three times more likely to develop cataracts and are more likely to have problems if they wear contact lenses.

The good news is that if you stop smoking all these risks are reduced.

The RNIB has useful information on the connection between smoking and sight loss here
SunProtecting your eyes from the sun is very important.

Never look at the sun directly as it could permanently damage your eyes.

You should wear good quality, dark sunglasses that carry the 'CE' mark and the British Standard BS EN 1836:1997. These marks ensure that the sunglasses offer a safe level of ultraviolet protection.