We all know we need to look after ourselves by making sure our lifestyles choices are healthy ones and that we keep fit and active. But we tend to take our eyes and eyesight for granted which is why National Eye Health Week (24-30 September) highlights the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests.

For everyday spectacle wearers, that’s not just turning up for a two-year check-up at your local optician, it’s also about making sure your eyes are cared for on a daily basis. Results of a 15-year study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology in January this year reveal that rates of eyelid cancer have risen by 2% each year and that the risk of developing eyelid cancer doubles for both men and women for every decade beyond the age of 60.

One of the simplest ways of ensuring healthy vision is to protect eyes from harmful UV light …all year round. Constant exposure to UV rays is not only harmful to the skin but also to the eyes. Over time it can accelerate ageing of the skin around the eyes and cause various forms of eye disorders such as cataracts and eyelid skin cancers as well as contribute to the development of macula degeneration

UV isn’t the only bad boy when it comes to eye health – our screen-based lifestyles and poor diets can also be contributing factors to a general deterioration. So, to give your eyes a fighting chance of staying fit and healthy follow these simple guidelines;

• Take regular breaks away from computer screens and digital devices – use the 20/20/20 rule – look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to reduce eye strain.

• Protect your eyes from UV damage – wear sunglasses in full sunlight, and interestingly make sure your everyday glasses have the correct lenses. Some brands such as ZEISS UVProtect give the same UV protection as sunglasses, but in clear plastic lenses.

• Have regular eye checks – particularly as you get older. Experts recommend an eye check every two years after the age of 40.

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle – three factors of poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse can lead to optic atrophy which can cause visual impairment and damage to the optic nerve cells.

• Eat a balanced diet – healthy eating is essential for healthy eyes. Green leaf vegetables help to delay the onset of cataracts; oily fish, packed full of Omega-3, reduce the tendency for dry eyes; and zinc found in cheese, milk and poultry helps promote better vision

National Eye Health Week runs from 24-30 September 2018

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