While some conditions which impact on eyesight cannot be avoided, there are many things you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. Manx Blind Welfare Society is here to provide services and support for blind and visually impaired people, but it is also part of our mission to promote good eye health so fewer people will need the Society’s help. Here’s just a few tips on how you can care for your eyes and eyesight.
• Be Healthy – If that sounds simple, it’s because it is! Eating well is good for your general health, and by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables you’ll also be making sure you get all the vitamins your eyes need to stay healthy. Did you know green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli help delay certain eye conditions, and that oranges, kiwi fruit, nuts, seeds and oily fish are also really good for your eyes? It is also really important to keep a watch on your weight – conditions linked to being overweight, such as diabetes, can cause eyesight problems for people later in life.
• Don’t Smoke – Again, this is just sensible advice for a healthy life, but smoking poses a real danger to eyesight. Smoking cigarettes can double the risk of developing an eye condition called macular degeneration which is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK and Isle of Man.
• Regular Eye Tests – We go to the dentist, the doctor and even get our cars serviced regularly, and yet very few people bother having eye tests. Everyone should have their eyes checked at least once every two years, not just to check if you need glasses or a new prescription – the tests conducted by opticians can spot indications of many sight-threatening conditions, some of which can be treated if detected early enough.
• Mind the Sun – We all know about the need to wear sunscreen to protect our skin from the Sun, but we don’t always remember to look after our eyes. Some of the rays in sunlight can be harmful to your eyes, so wear sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses with a UV filter to stop these harmful rays entering your eyes. This is particularly important at the beach, where the sea and sand can reflect and intensify the rays. Not all sunglasses are the same quality, so it is worth taking advice from an optician on the best type to protect your eyesight. And, of course, never look directly at the sun – even if you have sunglasses on!
• Take a Break – In this day and age we seem to spend more and more of our time staring at computer, mobile phone and tablet screens, whether it is checking websites, looking at social media updates, playing games or watching videos. Parents are often quick to remind their children to take a break, but forget about this rule when it comes to themselves. So remember – take a good break from any screen every 30 to 40 minutes, as you will strain and tire your eyes if you look at a screen for too long.
• Be Safe – Like so much advice, it really is common sense. If you are doing anything where anything could fly towards your face, whether it is DIY, chopping wood or even painting, make sure you wear safety goggles. It only takes a moment to pop them on, and it could literally save your eyesight.
• Family History – Some eye conditions are hereditary, so knowing your families health history can be really important. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with a disease or condition which affects eyesight, knowing about it early can allow you to have regular check-ups so you can address any problems that do happen as early as possible.