Small lifestyle changes could make a “big difference” to your vision, according to a Northamptonshire Optometrist, who is encouraging people to take their eye health seriously during National Eye Health Week (24-30 September).
Davis Optometrists, which has branches across Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, has launched a guide to healthy vision to provide people with all the tools they need to make a change.
Director and Optometrist Kim Durden said: “Eye health is often over-looked and many people don’t realise the simple steps they can take to protect one of the things we all value the most. By making some small lifestyle changes, people can make a big difference."
“From what you eat to how much you exercise, everything has a knock-on effect. Research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week can reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss – by up to 40 per cent."
Most of us have no idea that what we eat can affect how well we see, however eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables along with fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight.
Vitamins B and E can help protect against cataracts whilst omega-3 fish oils help maintain healthy blood vessels inside the eye.
Smokers are up to four times more likely to lose their sight than non-smokers.
Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye. This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including ARMD, some types of cataract, thyroid eye disease, dry eye and poor colour vision.
More than half of all British adults are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight helps preserve macula pigment density, which in turn, helps protect the retina against the breakdown of cells and the onset of ARMD.
Damage to blood vessels in the eye caused by excess body weight has also been linked to glaucoma.
Aerobic exercise can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye. Reducing pressure can help control conditions such as glaucoma and ocular hypertension.
Exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing cataracts and ARMD.
According to the World Health Organisation UV damage is the biggest modifiable risk factor of cataract development.
Always wear sunglasses when the UV index rises above three and check that your sunglasses filter AT LEAST 99 per cent of UVA and UVB light. Look out for a CE or British Standard or UV 400 mark when choosing your sunglasses as this indicates they provide adequate UV protection.
On average we spend a staggering 35 hours a week staring at a computer screen so it’s no surprise that 90 per cent of us say we experience screen fatigue – tired or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and poor colour perception.
Avoid eye strain by following the 20-20-20 rule, especially if you’re using a computer for long periods of time. Look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
And, don’t forget to book an eye test during National Eye Health Week if you haven’t had one in the last two years.