The statistics paint a striking picture. In the UK, over two million people have a significant vision impairment. It is predicted that this figure will double by 2050.
There are currently more than 645,000 people eagerly awaiting eye-related treatments or consultations. These delays raise concerns about the potential increase in preventable blindness, as underscored in a report by Specsavers on the state of the nation’s eye health released last year. These delays are particularly important for children’s eye health, as even a short delay in starting treatment can mean that a child never reaches their full visual potential.
However, there is encouraging news: there are numerous simple steps you can take to promote the longevity of your and your family’s eye health.
Spend Time Outdoors: Embracing the outdoors offers your eyes respite from close-up activities such as staring at computer screens and phones and outdoor exposure allows your eyes to focus on distant objects and benefits from natural light, reducing the risk of myopia development. This is especially pertinent for young individuals, as several studies have suggested a pivotal role of extended outdoor exposure in myopia control.
Engage in Regular Exercise: Aerobic exercise helps reduce intraocular pressure, a key factor in glaucoma development. Research indicates that individuals with glaucoma, a condition often resulting from elevated intraocular pressure damaging the optic nerve, experience slower vision deterioration when they engage in more physical activity. Improved blood circulation to the eyes may also stave off blood vessel overgrowth, a contributor to age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of adult vision loss.
Maintain a Balanced Diet: A diet rich in spinach, kale, leeks, red peppers, avocados, peaches, and blueberries can support eye and general health at all ages, and for older adults can slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Additionally, consuming oily fish like sardines, mackerel, and tuna provides essential omega-3 fatty acids, which can alleviate dry and itchy eyes. While carrots won’t grant superhuman vision, they offer beta carotene, an orange pigment essential for vitamin A production. Vitamin A, in turn, plays a vital role in rhodopsin production, a crucial protein for low-light vision.
Invest in Quality Sunglasses: We might wear sunscreen but are we protecting our eyes from harmful UV light? A lack of eyewear protection can elevate the risk of various eye conditions, including cataracts. Look for sunglasses bearing the “UKCA” mark and wear them whenever exposed to bright sunshine. On the other hand, there’s little evidence to support the effectiveness of blue light-blocking glasses against the alleged adverse effects of screen-based blue light.
Undergo Regular Eye Exams: Children may not be able to report poor vision until it is too late. For older individuals, many common eye issues manifest in middle age and may initially be asymptomatic. Moreover, optometrists can detect signs of conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and leukaemia by examining the delicate blood vessels at the back of the eye. Children can have free NHS eye tests every two years at a local optician, with more information here: Eye tests for children. Older people are advised to schedule an eye examination every two years, beginning at the age of 45, even if you believe your vision to be perfect.
More information about the RSBC Love Your Eyes campaign
Take part in the Love Your Eyes campaign and donate: RSBC 2023 World Sight Day JustGiving page