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Eye Health – How To Look After Your Eyes

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

There are two main reasons most of us get our eyes checked: 1. We can’t see properly, 2. Our eyes hurt. The first one doesn’t even hold up for long because once you’re prescribed glasses and get that HD vision, you don’t feel the need to keep going back. This is why causes like National Eye Health Week exist. The aim is to encourage regular eye tests, promote the importance of looking after your eye health, and educate about how to prevent avoidable sight loss.

Eye Health & Eyesight

While in many cases, having poor eyesight is out of our control. The most common causes of bad vision are refractive errors; meaning the eye has trouble focusing light. These errors include astigmatism, nearsightedness / myopia and farsightedness / hyperopia. There are also of course times where sight is lost or worsened due to genetic factors, injuries, etc. But did you know that according to Vision Mattersout of the 2 million people in the UK living with severe sight loss, over half of these cases are preventable? This is because there are a number of things that we do day to day that can significantly increase the risk of losing our eyesight. We’ll go into more detail below, but the main eye health tips are eat a healthy diet, exercise often, don’t smoke, don’t drink more than the recommended amount, and protect your eyes from the sun.

This Eye Health Calculator will help determine if you’re putting your eyes at risk.

Daily Eye Care

The key to eye health is knowing how to take care of your eyes on a daily basis. So much so that it becomes a habit. One thing to remember is that, just like every other organ in your body, the health of your eyes is impacted by the rest of your body. From your head to your toes. From what goes on on the outside to what goes on on the inside. Aside from of course wearing your glasses as they’re prescribed, using eye drops (i.e. artificial tears) if your eyes are dry, there are also natural eye care tips to follow.

Eat a Healthy Diet

As most are aware, a poor diet can negatively affect your overall health. This can of course extend to your eye health, considering a number of conditions can result in sight loss. The link between nutrition and eyesight isn’t one that most people are aware of. For example, antioxidants can help protect your retina from damage. Read this leaflet to find out what foods you should be eating. If you feel you are missing some vitamins or nutrients, you may be able to take supplements. Speak to your doctor before you start taking any.

Exercise Often

Lack of exercise can increase your risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which can impact your eye health. Being active can also prevent the narrowing or hardening of arteries that result in loss of vision.

Don’t Smoke

The biggest risk factor for macular degeneration is of course ageing, but next to that is smoking.

Don’t Drink Too Much

The safest way to avoid the serious health conditions that you can develop as a result of alcohol consumption is to stay within the recommended alcohol limits.

Use Sun Protection

It’s critical to protect your eyes from too much sun exposure. Never look directly at the sun. Ever! Ultraviolet light can burn your retinas and has the potential to cause irreversible damage. If it’s particularly sunny outside, try to wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat.

What To Look Out For

First it’s important to state that many eye conditions don’t carry any symptoms in the early stages, so you should get your eyes checked regularly even if everything seems fine. However, there are some signs that you may potentially have vision problems. The could be:

  • Sudden or frequent pain in or around the eye
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Unusual light sensitivity
  • Swollen and/or red eyes
  • Changes in colour of the cornea or iris, or white spots in the pupil
  • Seeing dark spots or sections
  • Seeing light spots, flashes or haloes

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s safest to speak to an eye doctor.

Try out this Vision Simulator to give you an idea of what the experience of some eye conditions are.

Get Your Eyes Checked!

Even if you take care of your eyes incredibly well, and follow all of the eye health tips above, you still need to get your eyes checked. There’s simply no way to get around it. It’s quick, painless and necessary. Contrary to popular belief, an eye test isn’t just to check your eyesight. An eye test can not only detect early signs of eye conditions like glaucoma, it can also detect signs of other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

So, whether or not you think you need to, please visit an optometrist and get your eyes checked at least every 2 years. Book an eye test today.


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