Elaine Hawthorn, store director at Specsavers in Stranraer, shares her knowledge on the unknown facts about eye health…

1. Holistic health test
‘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, autoimmune 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.’

2. 8 is too late
‘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.’

3. When to wear glasses
‘If you feel you can manage without them some of the time then there is no need to wear them all day. However, you will need to check if you are legal to drive without your glasses. Your eyesight will not get worse because you do not wear your glasses but may deteriorate because of natural changes with age.’

4. Smoking
‘The number one cause of visual impairment in the UK is a condition called Age Related Macular Degeneration. A major cause of this condition is smoking so stopping is always a good idea irrespective of how old you are or how long you have smoked.’

5. Sun exposure
‘Looking at the sun may not only cause headaches and blur your vision temporarily, but it can also cause permanent eye damage. Any exposure to sunlight adds to the cumulative effects of ultraviolet radiation on your eyes. UV exposure has been linked to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, cataract and burns on your retina.’

6. Computer screen
‘Staring at a computer screen all day can cause a number of symptoms ranging from aching eyes and headaches to dry eyes. 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.’

7. Contact lens best practice
‘Always wash your hands with non-cosmetic soap before handling contact lenses. Never use tap water directly on lenses, and never put contact lenses in your mouth to ‘rinse’ them. Microorganisms can even live in live distilled water, causing infection or sight damage. Do not sleep with contact lenses in your eyes unless you are prescribed ‘extended’ wear’ contacts. Closed eyes don’t allow tears to carry a healthy amount of oxygen to your eyes. If your contact lenses tend to dry out towards the end of the day try using a re-wetting solution or that your optometrist has approved. Do not swim in your contact lenses. Wearing goggles is better than not wearing them, but there remains a small risk of serious infection if you wear your contacts while swimming in a pool.’

8. Vision loss
'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.’

9. Do wear sunglasses
‘Eighty percent of the ultraviolet radiation eyes are exposed to over our whole lifespan will be absorbed before we reach the age of 18. CE marked sunglasses or UV blocking contact lenses will help reduce your child’s exposure to UV radiation.’

10. Eating carrots
‘Carrots are high in vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. Eating carrots will provide you with the small amount of vitamin A needed for good vision, but there is no solid science to prove this.’

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