National Eye Health Week 2018: Looking After Your Sight

This week is National Health Week 2018, which runs from Monday 24th September to Saturday 30th September.

National Eye Health Week is a national campaign encouraging everyone, young and old, to think about eye health and the importance of looking after your eyes.

Team ELVis have been very busy this week promoting the campaign across East London.  We’ve been talking to members of the public sharing advice and information on how to achieve good eye health and reduce the effects of sight loss.

Here are some of our top tips on how to keep your eyes healthy.

Eat healthily

There are numerous health benefits that come with incorporating healthy foods into your diet, such as healthy eyes and good vision.  Leafy green vegetables contain lots of nutrients like lutein which protect the eyes and reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Exercise regularly

Although exercise doesn’t have a direct link to eye health, there are benefits exercising can have on your overall wellbeing, such as reducing the risk of diabetes.  Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels behind your eyes and can lead to permanent vision loss.

Drink less alcohol

Did you know the recommended units of alcohol for a per day is 4 units for men and 3 for women?  Alcohol contains toxins which causes the optic nerves carrying your vision from the eyes to the brain to swell, which can lead to vision problems like blurry vision.

Quit smoking

Smoking has a negative consequence on your eyes and vision. The chemical toxins in tobacco damage the surface and structure of your eyes. Quitting smoking will decrease the likelihood of your eye health from further deteriorating.

Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses are not just a fashion statement!  They protect the eyes, especially on a very bright and sunny day.  When you’re buying a pair of sunglasses look out for ones which are labelled “UV 400” as these will protect your eyes from damaging UV rays which can cause permanent retinal damage.

Attend an eye examination

Going to see an optician for an eye examination can help detect any visual problems that can be corrected by glasses.  In addition, an optometrist can detect any health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure before you notice any effects on your eyes.

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Ray and Paul from ELVis with the local sensory team and eye clinic staff at The Royal London Hospital.

Written by Ray Calamaan, ELVis Communications Coordinator

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Ray’s Cataracts Diagnosis

At 22 years old, I had just graduated from university. Then, one day during the summer, I started to notice that my sight was becoming blurry, as if someone had placed tracing paper over my eyes. I didn’t think much of it at first because I thought my eyes were ‘playing up’. I tried using eye drops to see if the blurriness would disappear, but this didn’t seem to improve my sight at all. I began to find it difficult to read books and see bus numbers from a far.

After getting very frustrated that my sight wasn’t returning to normal, I decided to go to my local opticians in Shadwell. I’ve known my opticians, Mr Patel, ever since I was a young boy. I trusted him to tell me if there was anything wrong with my eyes. He was concerned to hear the ongoing issues that I was experiencing with my sight, and reassured me that he would fully investigate.

When Mr Patel took a look at my eyes he immediately noticed there was something different with them. I remember him saying to me “Raymond you have cataracts”. I had mixed emotions running through my head, mostly shock and surprise. I thought cataracts could only affect the elderly. I asked Mr Patel if I was going to lose my sight. He told me that I shouldn’t worry as my cataracts were at an early stage, and all I needed was an operation on both eyes to remove the cataracts.

As my mum was also present during the appointment, Mr Patel spoke to us both about what must be done next to treat my cataracts. He advised me to go to my GP so they can make a referral for me to see the Ophthalmologist at my local eye hospital.

Over the upcoming months, my cataracts rapidly progressed and I could no longer see out of both eyes. I had to rely heavily on my family and friends for mobility. In 2013, I had cataracts surgery on my right eye.

Cataracts is an eye condition related to aging, and is the clouding of the lense. The World Health Organisation says that 51% of worldwide blindness is caused by cataracts – a figure that equates to around 20 million people. Although, cataracts is related to aging having diabetes can also increase the likelihood of developing cataracts at a younger age.

For more information about cataracts visit: https://www.edinburghclinic.com/blog/cataract-facts/

Lastly, I hope that my blog article has helped to emphasize the importance of having an eye health check-up, at least once every two years, regardless of your age.

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National Eye Health Week poster which says, “13.8 Million UK Adults are at risk of avoidable sight loss because they fail to have regular sight tests”

Written Ray Calamaan