Specsavers in Dagenham is urging people to focus on their eye health this summer. Gurjit Singh Sehmi says: ‘Your eyes are windows to your overall health. Looking at them regularly allows an optician like myself to spot the early signs of a wide range of conditions that include diabetes and glaucoma, but other issues too such as heart disease, cancers of the eye, brain tumours, detached retina and high cholesterol.’

Watching out for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the general term used to describe damage to the optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the UK and can reduce a person’s eyesight by up to 40 per cent before the sufferer even realises there is a problem. It is commonly caused by raised eye pressure or a weakness in your optic nerve. In most cases that we see, high pressure and weakness in the optic nerve are both involved to a varying extent.

Who is at risk and how can it be treated?
As well as those over 40 running an increased risk of developing glaucoma, it is also a hereditary condition. Other risk factors include short-sightedness, if people are of Afro-Caribbean descent, or have other medical conditions such as diabetes, poor circulation, migraine headaches or past eye injuries. Glaucoma may sound frightening but it is treatable and can be detected early with regular eye examinations. It’s very common to assume there is nothing wrong with your eyesight if you think you can see well, but an eye check can detect much more than your level of sight so I would urge everyone to take care of their eye health all year round.

Watching out for diabetes
A lot of people do not realise that your sight becomes extremely vulnerable if you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Around 40 per cent of the four million people in the UK living with diabetes have some degree of optical damage, known as retinopathy. If retinopathy is detected and treated early, then blindness can be prevented in 90 per cent of cases. The team here uses a digital retinal camera to take a photograph of the back of the eye, which allows us to monitor the smallest of changes. An eye examination can detect signs of diabetes in people who don’t even realise they have it too, which is another reason why we suggest an eye test at least every two years.

Gurjit concludes:  "If you have any concerns about your eye health, we are always here to help."

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