This National Eye Health Week (23-29 September), the team at Specsavers in Victoria Square has five facts to help understand and prevent sight loss.

A word from the store director
‘Eye health is a really important part of overall wellbeing,’ says store director, Andrew Wells. ‘It’s part of our job to help people look after their sight, but we can also spot other health conditions through eye tests.

‘We’re passionate about eye health and so our eye tests are free of charge. We also offer a detailed scan with hospital-grade equipment – an OCT, or optical coherence tomography machine which helps us to monitor eyes in more detail than ever before.

‘This week, we’re encouraging people to put eye health on the agenda and hope our advice will get people thinking about what they can do to keep themselves well and prevent future sight loss.’

Know your roots
f your family has a history of diabetes, glaucoma or high blood pressure – all causes of sight loss - your risk of eye problems may be higher. You can’t choose what you inherit from your family, but if you’re aware of any health risks, then you can take steps to stop them from affecting your life.

Getting older
Ageing increases the risk of sight loss which affects one in five people over 75 in the UK. Leading causes include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and glaucoma. As you get older, particularly from the age of 60, it’s vital to be more proactive in caring for your eyes.

Quit smoking
Smoking damages the tissue of your eye, increasing the risk of developing diabetes and cataracts and doubles the risk of developing AMD. Giving up cigarettes is notoriously hard, but it could transform your eye health. The NHS provides free support to quit smoking.

A healthy life balance
Aside from the other benefits, this is one of the best ways to look after your eyes at any age. A diet full of green leafy vegetables has been associated with lowering the risk of AMD in some studies, while regular exercise can also reduce the risk of AMD, diabetes and high blood pressure. And getting enough sleep allows your eyes to rest and recharge properly.

Regular check-ups
Regular visits to the optometrist help manage your general health and prevent any issues from developing. Eye tests enable your optician to catch any potential problems and work with you on a solution. At Ashbourne Specsavers, eye tests are free and the team can also offer an OCT scan.

The OCT machine is a piece of equipment usually found in hospital eye departments that produces a detailed structural scan of the eye. It means that optometrists can monitor eye health over time in great detail, picking up minute changes. Some eye conditions can be identified up to five years earlier when using the OCT, compared to traditional methods. The scan can be booked in addition to your eye test for a cost of £10.

Your eyes can reveal a lot about your health so it’s really important to have regular eye tests – once every two years, or more often if recommended by your optometrist. Having your eyes tested doesn’t just check for changes in vision and help prevent sight loss through early detection of degenerative conditions, it can even identify other health concerns like brain tumours or problems with your circulation.

Fundraising during National Eye Health Week
After a recent visit from the Guide Dogs last Saturday, the team at Ashbourne Specsavers is raising money all this week to support the charity’s work.

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