Your eyes are an important part of your overall health and wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting your eyes tested regularly can help you to keep your eyes healthy.
Getting your eyes tested
It is easy to neglect your eyes because they don’t often hurt when there is a problem.
Getting your eyes tested won’t just tell you if you need to get new glasses or change your prescription. It will also check your general eye health. An eye test can detect many general health problems and signs of eye conditions before you are aware of any symptoms, many of which can be treated if found early enough.
Poor eyesight can also lead to falls, so getting your eyes checked will also help you to avoid injury.
Optometrists and opticians recommend that you get your eyes tested at least every two years. People over 40 or who are from black and other ethnic minority groups may need their sight tested more often.
You should also visit your optician if you notice any change in your vision or if you have any concerns about your eye health.
Your children’s eye health
Children will often not complain if they have problems with their sight, but there may be signs that they are not able to see properly.
Signs to look out for include;
- sitting close to the TV
- holding objects very close to their face
- blinking a lot
- rubbing their eyes
- one eye turning in or out
If you suspect your child is having any problems with their sight, you should take them to an optician for further investigation.
It is not necessary for children to be able to read letters for their eyes to be tested. Like adults, children should have their eyes tested regularly.
Eye health for older people
Your eyesight changes as you get older and almost everyone will need to wear glasses or contact lenses by the time they’re 65.
Taking care of your eye health will improve the chances of your sight remaining clear for longer.
There are a number of specific eye health problems which can affect older people, including;
Eye muscles also start to weaken from the age of 45, due to the natural aging of the eyes. This is a normal process that happens to everyone.
By the time you are 60, you will probably need separate reading glasses or an addition to your prescription lenses (bifocals or varifocals).
Protecting your eye health
There are a number of things you can do to protect your eye health, including;
- quit smoking or never start - research has linked smoking to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataract and optic nerve damage, which can all lead to blindness
- protect your eyes from the sun - never look directly at the sun, doing so can cause permanent damage and can even cause blindness (wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can help protect your eyes)
- maintain a healthy weight and take regular exercise - being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing diabetes or other conditions which can lead to loss of vision
- limit alcohol intake - drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration – stick to recommended limits
- give your eyes a rest - if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer your eyes can get tired so take regular screen breaks to reduce eyestrain
- wear safety goggles when necessary in the workplace, when doing DIY and/or sporting activities