This week marks National Eye Health Week (18-24 September 2017) and Tony McGinn, optometrist and store director at Specsavers in Abbeycentre explains how important it is to get your eyes You only have one pair of eyestested regularly.You only have one pair of eyes
‘Good vision is something that often we all take for granted. But it’s not guaranteed. Anyone at any age can developYou only have one pair of eyes problems with their eye health which is why having regular eye tests is so important. Eye examinations nowadays go beyond how well you can see and can provide early warning signs of various conditions to enable treatment.’
Specsavers and RNIB are urging people to have regular eye tests to help maintain and protect their sight. Research* commissioned by the charity and high street opticians to mark National Eye Health Week, has revealed that one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime, despite at least half of all cases being avoidable. With nearly six million people locally and UK wide are currently living with sight-threatening conditions, nearly every family is touched by sight problems in some way.
While sight is our most precious sense by far, with 78% of people polled saying it is the one they would least like to lose, a quarter of UK adults are still risking avoidable sight loss by not having had an eye test in the past 2 years.
Of those who had not been for an eye test during that time period, 33% did not think that there was anything wrong with their eyes, while 24% said that they just didn’t have the time.
Tony McGinn, Newtownabbey Specsavers optometrist said, ‘Some people are waiting until they experience sight loss before booking an eye test, which means they are potentially preventing their optician from detecting signs of eye health problems or other medical issues at an early stage. Early intervention is vital in the management and successful treatment of many conditions.’
RNIB acting CEO Sally Harvey added: ‘We would encourage anyone who has put off going for an eye test to book one at the earliest opportunity.’
* YouGov Survey commissioned by Specsavers and RNIB 23rd June -7th July 2017 of 6,430 UK adults aged 18+.
Caring for young eyes
‘Most very young children have their eyesight assessed as part of their routine developmental checks. Whilst these are very important, they aren’t as thorough as a complete eye test by a qualified optician and we recommend your child has their first eye test from age three onwards.
‘In school approximately 80% of what is taught is presented visually, so good eyesight will really help your child to learn and develop. Often it can be difficult for parents to tell if their young children have sight issues, which is why regular testing is so important.
‘Tell-tale signs to look for include a child losing their place while reading, frequent eye rubbing, constantly sitting too close to the TV or complaining of headaches or tired eyes. Young children may also try to avoid activities which need near vision such as homework or reading or don’t want to participate in sports or recreational activities which require distance vision. The sooner vision problems can be detected the better the outcome. Conditions such as squint and amblyopia (lazy eye) can be treated more effectively if picked up early and this can make a huge difference to your child socially and to his or her school progress.’
When you get older
‘By mid-40s most people notice their eyes beginning to struggle to adjust between distance and close-up vision. This is known as presbyopia and affects everyone at some point. Certain other eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts are also more common with age, so regular eye tests become increasingly important.
‘Important signs to look out for are:- when colours look a bit washed out; it’s difficult to judge the depth of steps, straight lines look wobbly; it’s hard to read; you’re struggling to see road signs when driving or when walking see destinations/numbers on a bus; blurred vision or floaters. These signs are not just a part of getting older – they are telling you something is wrong.
‘Glaucoma gradually destroys eyesight and there are no obvious signs of early glaucoma. But it’s easily detectable during a routine eye check and can be effectively treated with eye drops. Early diagnosis is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed.
‘Cataracts are common in the over-60s and left untreated may lead to loss of sight. Early stage cataracts can be treated with prescription glasses while cloudy cataracts can be removed with surgery. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65. Steps to reduce the risk of developing AMD include stopping smoking and protecting your eyes from the sun, but to prevent more rapid deterioration early diagnosis and treatment of AMD is vital.’
Common Eye Conditions
‘Minor eye problems such as dry eye, watering eye, red eye and blepharitis are easily detected and can be treated by an optician. When eyes can’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears this is called ‘dry eye.’ Watering eyes occur when too many tears are produced or tears cannot drain away properly. Treatment for dry eyes includes eye drops or medication and for watering eyes lubricating eye drops and advice on how to avoid activities and situations that might aggravate the symptoms.
‘Most people will experience red, irritated or bloodshot eyes from time to time and this is usually nothing to worry about it can be an indication of something more serious such a glaucoma. One of the most common causes of red eye is conjunctivitis. It can also be caused by a scratch to the cornea or grit in the eye which can be normally removed by an optician.
‘In summary if you experience redness, pain and discomfort, blurred vision or flashes of light – also an increase in the number of ‘floaters’ in your eyes or a sudden loss of vision, you should visit an optician as soon as possible. ‘