space_eye_by_iceteaedwin-d5raogqWith the 5th annual National Eye Health Week taking place on 22-28 September 2014,  we wanted to look further into visual impairment, the organisations that exist to support people with sight loss and how we can best take care of our eyes.

Sight is something that many of us take for granted, it is one of the most important senses we have and it is hard to imagine life without it. According to information from leading charity, RNIB, almost 2 million people in the UK are living with some form of sight loss. The main cause of sight loss is age related macular degeneration, with other significant causes being glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.

It is therefore of vital importance that we do everything we can to ensure our eyes are in the best possible health. The RNIB website has a list of recommendations for looking after your eyes:

1. Regular eye tests

Everyone should have their eyes examined at least once every two years – even if there is no change in your vision. An eye examination can often pick up the first signs of an eye condition before you notice any changes in your vision. This can lead to you getting vital treatment at the right time, which could save your sight.

2. Stop smoking

Did you know smoking can double the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of sight loss? In fact, the link is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer.

3. Eat healthily and watch your weight

Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help delay the progression of cataracts and AMD. Oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also help prevent and slow down some eye conditions. Taking supplements is not a substitute for a healthy diet. It is important to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can increase the risk of developing diabetes, which in turn can cause sight loss.

4. Keep your eyes covered in the sun

UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can harm your eyes and may increase the risk of cataracts and AMD. Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses with built in UV filter will protect your eyes. Only buy sunglasses that have a CE mark or carry British Standard BSEN 1836:1997.

5. Safety first

DIY causes thousands of eye related injuries each year. Always wear safety goggles (European Standard BS EN 166) to protect your eyes from flying debris and fine particles. Sport (especially racquet-based sports) also causes lots of eye related injuries each year. Investing in a good pair of protective sports goggles will help prevent serious damage to your eyes.

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