Around 1.8 million people in the UK are living with some degree of impaired vision, and sight is the sense that the people fear losing the most. Don’t be blind to the simple ways you can protect your eyes.
Get regular checks
A staggering 74% of the British population wear corrective eye wear or have opted for laser eye surgery to help them see better. Despite our eyes becoming more vulnerable as we age, over 5% of people over the age of 40 have not had an eye test for at least a decade. With some major eye conditions being hereditary, knowing your family eye history is a smart way to get ahead of your eye health as you get older, but it is important to get tested annually. Your eyes won’t normally hurt if something is wrong, so a dilated eye exam is often the only way to reveal common diseases like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Early detection is also essential for effectively treating and sometimes even curing such conditions.
In addition to the gamut of other major health benefits of being a non-smoker, being smoke-free is good for your eyes. Smoking significantly increases your risk of developing macular degeneration, plus it fast tracks the development of cataracts and can cause optic nerve damage. Your eyes won’t give you clues until these conditions are well advanced, so take action now and kick the habit. You only have one pair of eyes, so treat them well!
Manage your screen time
According to the UK communications regulator Ofcom, adults spend more than eight hours a day on media devices – that’s more screen time per day than the recommended night’s sleep. Avoid your screen time being too intensive and triggering eye strain, dry eyes, blurry vision or headaches by following the 20-20-20 rule: rest your eyes every 20 minutes by looking 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
Diet plays a big role in your overall wellbeing, with eye health being no exception. Will eating carrots help you see in the dark? Well, yes and no. They won’t improve your visual acuity, but they are packed full of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A (an invaluable nutrient for healthy eyes). You can do a better job of protecting your eyes with a rich and colourful diet loaded with risk-reducing antioxidants and nutrients such as lutein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and E. In real terms, this means making greens like broccoli, spinach and kale, coldwater fish like salmon and tuna, nuts, beans, eggs, soy, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, grapes, citrus fruits and avocados a permanent fixture on your shopping list.
Shade yourself from harm
Exposing your naked eyes to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays makes them vulnerable to sunburn, which can contribute to blurred vision and even eyelid cancer in the long run. So get sun smart and always protect your eyes as you would your skin by wearing sunglasses with total UV protection. As a rule of thumb, sunglasses with polarised lenses usually eliminate 100% of harmful UV rays. Be wary of cheap sunglasses – they make look great, but they won’t provide the level of protection you need.
Get the right light
Reading or watching TV in dim-lit environments can feel cosy come nightfall, but be careful not to keep lighting too low. There is no medical evidence to suggest that it will cause any significant long-term damage to your eyesight, but it does put unnecessary strain on your eyes, causing them to fatigue and trigger headaches.
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