Looking after your eyes
Did you know that some conditions, such as
glaucoma, can develop so slowly that you might not be aware you
have it until you have lost a significant amount of vision which
cannot be restored? Regular eye tests can ensure that any changes
to your vision are monitored and treatment can be administered if
appropriate. A sight test is a vital check on the health of your
eyes and includes the detection of eye conditions. Many conditions,
if they are found early, can be treated successfully, avoiding
potential sight loss.
A sight test can also detect other conditions
such as high blood pressure.
It is recommended that most people have eye
tests every 2 years (more frequently if you are diabetic, 40+ with
a family history of glaucoma, or over 70). It is recommended that
children have yearly eye tests. Tests are free if you are
under 16, aged 16, 17, or 18 and in full time education, 60 or
over, registered sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely
sight impaired (blind), are diabetic, have been diagnosed with
glaucoma, if you are 40+ and have an immediate family history of
glaucoma, or if you are on means tested benefits. If you work with
computers you may be able to claim the cost back from your
If you are over 40, or of African Caribbean
origin, or have a close family member with an eye condition like
glaucoma, you should bear in mind that you are at a greater risk
than average of having an eye condition that may not have any
symptoms. That means you might not find out about a problem until
it becomes difficult to do something about it.
There is evidence that too much exposure to
the sunshine, in particular the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays,
can contribute to the development of cataracts and age-related
Research has shown that 76 per cent of parents
admit to not making sure their child wears sunglasses when out and
about in the sun. Since children spend a lot of time outside, it’s
important to protect your child’s eyes in the sun. Make sure your
child’s sunglasses have 100% UV protection and carry the British
Standard (BS EN 1836:2005) or CE mark. You can also protect your
child’s eyes by making sure they wear a hat with a brim or a sun
visor in bright sunlight. Scientific studies have shown that
children who spend time outdoors are less likely to be
short-sighted and some eye problems are linked to unhealthy
lifestyles. So don’t stop your child exercising outdoors! Just make
sure their eyes are properly protected.
Research has shown that almost 80 per cent of
under-25s put fashion and price before safety standards when
choosing sunglasses. Buy good quality, dark sunglasses - good
sunglasses don’t need to be expensive: you can purchase perfectly
adequate protective sunglasses from high street stores.
Sun beds have been linked to skin cancer, so
they are best avoided. If you do use a sun bed, always make sure
you wear eye protection while tanning. The skin on eyelids is very
thin and delicate so it is vital to protect eyelids from
ultraviolet (UV) rays. Lack of protection could lead to benign eye
growths called Pterygium and repeated exposure to UV may cause
long-term damage, which could affect your sight. So it is vital
that you use effective eye protection in the form of goggles on
both sun and tanning beds
Research conducted by the College of Optometrists shows that
most of us spend nearly 50 hours a week staring at a computer
More than half of those say they suffer from “tired eyes”, while
others admit to suffering headaches, blurred vision and have
If you spend a lot of your time looking at computers it is
crucial that you take regular breaks and have regular eye
Some do’s and don’ts
- Make sure that if you need glasses to look at a screen, that
you wear them!
- Blink regularly. When focusing on a screen your reflexes slow
down, tear production reduces, and you blink less, causing
dry and uncomfortable eyes.
- Remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away
(six metres) for 20 seconds to give your eye muscles a break and
help increase the rate of blinking.
- Keep the distance of the monitor from your eyes between 40 and
76 centimetres (16 to 30 inches). Most people find a distance of 50
to 65 centimetres (20 to 26 inches) comfortable.
- Make sure that the top of the monitor is at a level at or
slightly below your horizontal eye level.
- Tilt the top of the monitor away from you at 10 to 20-degrees.
This will enable you to create an optimum viewing angle.
- Keep your screen free of dust and fingerprints.
- Try and position your monitor so that you do not get
distracting reflections (e.g. from a window).
- Use an adjustable chair that enables you to sit at a proper
angle and distance from your computer monitor screen.
- If your work involves prolonged data entry, use document
holders to secure any reading or reference material. Placing
them close to the monitor or at the same distance from your
eyes as your monitor will enable your eyes to remain focused as
they look from the monitor to the reading material.
- Use a character size that is visible. Character size is an
important factor since it determines the distance at which you
prefer to view the monitor.
- Make sure your workstation is set up comfortably; avoid poor
posture, which can lead to neck, back, arm or other aches and
In total around 30,000 eye injuries a year are linked to DIY
activity - many caused by flying wood, metal or concrete chips.
Protective eyewear should be worn for activities such as
hammering, chiselling, drilling, stripping paint, splitting tiles
or concrete slabs, welding, painting ceilings and laying
insulation. The rule of thumb being that if there is any risk of an
object entering the eye, to wear protective eyewear.
Another common activity that can lead to eye injury is
gardening. You don’t need to wear goggles for this, but
sometimes glasses or sunglasses can be useful, for example to
protect against canes poking you in the eye when bending down
weeding or pruning.
When you buy eyewear protection, check it conforms to European
Standard BSEN 166. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, these
will not protect your eyes sufficiently, and protective eyewear
should be worn on top to ensure adequate protection. Alternatively,
you can have prescription goggles fitted by your local
If you do experience an eye injury, it is important to not rub
the affected eye. You should seek medical assistance immediately
Everybody knows that eating the right food is
the way to keep your heart healthy, but the good news is that the
same diet that helps your heart is also good for your eyes. A diet
low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can pay
benefits not only to your heart but to your eyes as well. The
connection isn't surprising: your eyes rely on tiny arteries for
oxygen and nutrients, just as the heart relies on much larger
arteries. Keeping those arteries healthy will help your
Some foods stand out as particularly helpful
for eye health. Here are four that you should make part of your
Greens. Leafy green
vegetables, like kale, are high in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, two
nutrients found in the healthy eye that are believed to lower your
risk for age related macular degeneration and cataracts. One large
study showed that women who had diets high in Lutein were 23% less
likely to develop cataracts than women whose diets were low in this
nutrient. Not a big fan of kale? Not to worry. Other dark leafy
green vegetables, like spinach, romaine lettuce, collards and
turnip greens, also contain significant amounts of Lutein and
Zeaxanthin. Eggs are also a good source of these nutrients, as are
broccoli, peas and corn.
Salmon. Some studies suggest
that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acid from cold-water fish like
salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut reduce the risk of developing
eye disease later in life. A 2010 study from Johns Hopkins found
that people who had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acid were much
less likely to develop Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Oranges. Oranges and all of
their citrus cousins — grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons — are
high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is critical to eye health.
Scientists have found that your eyes need relatively high levels of
vitamin C to function properly, and antioxidants can prevent or at
least delay cataracts and AMD. Lots of other foods offer benefits
similar to oranges, including peaches, red peppers, tomatoes and
Black-eyed peas. Legumes of
all kinds, including black-eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, and
peanuts contain zinc, an essential trace mineral that is found in
high concentration in the eyes. Zinc may help protect your eyes
from the damaging effects of light. Other foods high in zinc
include oysters, lean red meat, poultry and fortified cereals.
There are lots of other great foods out there
to help keep your eyes healthy. Among them, the one most people
think of first: carrots. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a
nutrient that helps with night vision, as are other orange-coloured
fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, apricots and cantaloupe.
Making them a part of your diet can help you keep your eyes
Eye care campaign
Bedford Borough Council has been significantly involved in the
Bedfordshire wide awareness raising campaign for eye health. This
is now being publicised in Bedford Borough through a number of
visual display units in the Harpur Centre, train station and other
locations, advertising the importance of eye testing.
Across Bedfordshire all GP practices and pharmacies will display
posters reinforcing this message.
here to view the poster.