Save Your Vision Month
Originally founded 78 years ago by the American Optometric Association, March is Save Your Vision month. In 2017 the technology surrounding eye health, as well as the environmental demands we place on our eyesight, make for interesting times. Many of us neglect the due care and attention our eyes and vision deserve, but one thing is certain: no one should neglect their eye health. Eyes may be the ‘windows to the soul’ but they are also a window to your wider health.
It’s Not Just What You Can See That Matters
Obviously, vision is important, and one of the main purposes of an eye examination. However, optometrists are far more skilled than simply interpreting your answers to “Which is better: one or two?” and determining your skill at detecting black dots on red and green. Through regular sight tests, and it is recommended these should be annual, it is possible to pick up tell-tale indications of other life-threatening and life-altering diseases.
Diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, thyroid problems, some forms of arthritis and other auto-immune conditions, and even tumours can all often be detected through a regular eye examination. Given that all of these conditions carry a much better prognosis with early treatment, and often lie undetected until considerable damage is done, eye examinations are worth their weight in gold.
A Nation Neglecting Their Eyes
Worryingly, in the UK alone, nearly half of all instances of sight loss could have been prevented according to the sight charity RNIB. Furthermore, it’s thought that the cost of sight loss per annum is a staggering £28 billion per year. Ignoring our eye health is costing us in several ways.
Eye examinations should be as regular for everyone, glasses or contact lens wearers or not, as a trip to the dentist. Starting from school age, if not before, everyone in the country should be having an eye examination annually. For children today, with increased screen use, this is even more important than in times gone by. The good news is that in the UK, sight tests are free for children where many conditions can be picked up early in a sight test that can be halted, or cured when leaving them to develop could prove disastrous.
Away From the Opticians, What Else Can We Do To Protect Our Eye Health?
Having regular eye examinations is one thing, but there are other factors in our lifestyle we can consider to improve our eye health.
In 2017 the most obvious of these to consider is the effect of screen use on our eyes, and our children’s sight. There’s still research needed here, but evidence is emerging that the modern world’s love of screens is causing higher levels of myopia (short-sightedness). Research shows that 16.4% of UK children are short-sighted now compared to just 7.2% in the 1960s.
Beyond a careful balance of screen usage, we can all take steps to bolster our eye health through our diet, as well as lifestyle factors such as stopping smoking. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids making it great for preventing and relieving dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration. Carrots and spinach, on the other hand, are rich in the vision-enhancing and protecting vitamin A and lutein.
Save Your Vision Month – Act Now
So looking after your eyes, and having regular eye examinations, makes sound common sense not just for your vision but your overall health. Why not use the impetus of Save Your Vision Month this March to book in for an eye examination for you and your family.