Health professionals from across the UK are uniting for National Eye Health Week to promote the vital importance of regular sight tests. Michael Meller, ophthalmic store director at Specsavers Fakenham and East Dereham, has offered his insight on the little-known facts about eye health and the ‘holistic’ reasons to visit the opticians.
There’s more to sight tests than meet the eye
Many people are unaware of the intricacy of an eye test and what it can detect. Michael explains: ‘An eye test is a holistic health test and can help detect not only vision issues but also high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumours, strokes, diabetes, auto immune disorders and even multiple sclerosis. It is important to regularly attend every two years to ensure any sight issues or health conditions are detected early.’
Sight tests are just as important, if not more so, for children. Some eye care experts recommend having your child's first eye test even before their eighth birthday. Michael adds: ‘Some parents don’t realise that at the age of eight it is often too late to correct eye conditions such as a squint or a lazy eye, which can lead to lifelong problems. I recommend an eye examination for all children before eight years old and then once every one to two years.’
Give up Smoking
The number one cause of visual impairment in the UK is a condition called age-related macular degeneration. According to research, a major cause of this condition is smoking. Meller commented: ‘Stopping is always a good idea irrespective of how old you are or how long you have smoked. Better to be safe than sorry.’
He added that screen time – both on the computer and phone – can put a strain on the eyes causing a number of symptoms ranging from aching or dry eyes to headaches. The good news is that these symptoms tend to go away when ceasing screen work and there is no evidence that long term screen use can damage a user’s vision.
Last but not least
Two million people are already experiencing sight loss in the UK. This could be preventable by having an eye test. Meller recommends that at the very first sign of symptoms, such as blurred vision, eye pain, flashes of light or sudden onset of floaters in your vision, you should see your optometrist. If detected early enough, depending on the cause, there are treatments that can correct, stop, or at least, slow down the loss of vision.
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