The fifth National Eye Health Week takes place this week (22-28 September). Once again local eye charities, organisations and health professionals are joining together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all.
This week's campaign highlights the message that while your eyes might look great and your eyesight may seem fine, that doesn't mean your eyes are healthy. Many eye conditions - glaucoma, for instance - have no early symptoms, so you may not know your sight is being damaged. However, when eye conditions are detected, the right type of treatment could protect your sight.
Tips to keep your eyes healthy:
1) Have regular eye tests
RNIB research shows that 50% of sight loss is preventable and the best way to avoid sight loss is to have regular eye examinations. For most people, eye tests are recommended every two years. If you are over 70, or have diabetes or a family history of glaucoma you should have your eyes checked every year. If you do notice a change in your sight, never dismiss it as "just part of getting older" - visit your local optometrist immediately. Remember, many people are entitled to free eye tests. For example, if you are over 60, are diabetic, have a close relative with glaucoma or receive certain benefits.
By not smoking, you significantly reduce your risk of developing sight problems due to cataracts and vascular disease, as well as macular degeneration - the UK's biggest cause of blindness. In fact, research shows that being a smoker double your chances of sight loss through such conditions.
3) The sun
The sun's UV rays can harm your eyes and increase your chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses or contact lenses with a UV filter will help protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses marked "CE" or "British Standard BS EN 1836:2005" to ensure full UV protection.
Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which can in turn lead to sight loss. Eating a balanced and healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables has been shown to help protect against eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.
5) Sport and DIY
Sport, flying debris and fine particles cause thousands of eye injuries each year, but sport or safety goggles can protect your eyes from serious injury. Wear goggles marked "European Standard BS EN 199:2002".
For more advice and information about eye health, visit the National Eye Health Week website at www.visionmatters.org.uk