After the recent National Eye Health Week, we could all take something from these top tips.
If you are concerned about anything eye related, you should seek the advise of your Optometrist.
After the recent National Eye Health Week, we could all take something from these top tips.
If you are concerned about anything eye related, you should seek the advise of your Optometrist.
Our top tips for healthy eyes
Have your eyes tested every two years even if you think your vision is fine. An eye test can spot some eye conditions and other illnesses not related to sight. Regular check-ups are vital even if you have no symptoms.
Talk to your relatives about your family eye health history. Some eye conditions have genetic links which increase your risk of developing them. Share this information with your optometrist or eye health professional.
If you wear contact lenses make sure you look after them properly. Thoroughly wash and dry your hands before touching your contact lenses or your eyes. Your lenses and their case should only ever be cleaned with the lens solution recommended by your optometrist. Always follow the instructions given to you by your optometrist or the lens manufacturer.
Protect your eyes when it is sunny or when you’re in high glare areas such as near snow or water. The CE or BS EN 1836:2005 marks indicate that sunglasses provide a safe level of protection from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Ongoing UV exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration.
Wear safety glasses or protective goggles to protect your eyes from injury if you work with hazardous or airborne materials. This applies to home too if you are doing DIY, gardening or setting off fireworks.
Being fit and well can help your eyes stay healthy. Maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure may help with eye health. Protect your eyes when playing sports involving flying balls.
Make sure your diet includes nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E. These may help to prevent or delay age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Recommended foods for general good health include green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and citrus fruits.
Smoking is harmful to your eyes and can increase the risk of sight loss. Current smokers are 2-4 times more at risk of developing macular degeneration than people who have never smoked.
There is evidence to suggest that some recreational drugs can cause sight loss – particularly alkyl nitrites, also known as poppers.
Facts about sight loss
Researchers in Southampton have discovered children who suffer from eye movement disorder nystagmus – known as ‘wobbly eye’ – struggle to recognise faces but not other objects.
It is hoped the novel finding, which was made following a study led by consultant paediatric ophthalmologist Jay Self and his team at Southampton Children’s Hospital, will lead to the development of more accurate diagnostic tests and better support for patients.
Nystagmus causes the eyes to ‘wobble’ and creates strobe vision, which makes it difficult to see moving objects, recognise familiar faces or perform everyday activities such as playing with toys and friends.
Although the condition, which affects around one in 1,500 people in the UK, can develop in later life, it is more commonly found in babies and young children – known as congenital nystagmus – and can be caused by many different underlying conditions.
The study, carried out by medical student Shinn Tan, in collaboration with the psychology team at the University of Southampton and clinicians in Cardiff and Plymouth, compared how children with and without nystagmus look at faces using an innovative infrared eye-tracking device.
Children were shown two different images on a computer screen at the same time while the Eyelink 1000 Plus analyser used infrared light reflected from the cornea of their eye to measure the time spent looking at each image.
When presented with a black and white checkerboard pattern and a plain grey panel, all children spent longer looking at the distinctive checkerboard and seemed to identify it very quickly – as expected by the clinicians.
However, when shown photos of their own mother’s face and that of another woman, children without nystagmus spent longer looking at their mother and found their face very quickly, while those with the condition looked at both faces for the same length of time and seemed to struggle to identify their own mother’s face.
“Nystagmus is an extremely complicated condition, therefore, testing and diagnosing it has proved very challenging, so we are constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance methods of diagnosis, as well as increase the support available to patients,” explained Mr Self, who is associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southampton.
“These results indicate that children with nystagmus may have specific difficulty recognising faces or adopt different ways of looking at faces – something that’s rarely detected by standard eye tests.”
He added: “The findings could provide the basis of a more accurate diagnosis of nystagmus severity and measure of the efficacy of trial treatments, as well as improved social support and understanding for patients.”
The study was funded by the Nystagmus Network.
Blurry vision is being unable to see the fine details.
Blurred vision can be described as the lack of clarity or detail when viewing an object, similar to seeing things as if they are out-of-focus in a photograph.
The blurriness can be subtle or obvious, can change through the day, and can come on slowly or quickly. It depends on the cause.
Diabetes can cause blurry vision for a variety of reasons. Both short-term and long-term complications can affect the vision of someone with diabetes.
Contents of this article:
How does diabetes affect the eyes?
Long-term uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels that cause damage to small blood vessels over time. This damage can lead to problems with part of the eye called the retina which can create blurred vision.
There are many reasons why diabetes might cause blurry vision.
Short-term blurriness in people with diabetes is due to a different cause. Fluid shifts into and out of the eye due to high blood sugar levels, causing the lens of the eye to swell.
This change in its shape causes blurriness as the lens is the part that focuses light onto the back of the eye. This short-term issue will resolve once blood sugar levels are lowered.
Can diabetes treatment cause blurriness?
Diabetes can also cause short-term blurriness if blood sugar levels fall too low (hypoglycemia). This can happen due to the timing of food or a change in activity levels in people who take medication that increases insulin in the body.
Rather than being caused by changes in the eye, blurriness from low blood sugars is caused by the effects of hypoglycemia on the brain. Vision affected in this way will return to normal after glucose levels return to normal.
Is blurry vision with diabetes temporary?
As stated above, blurry vision can be caused by both short-term and long-term complications of diabetes.
Long-term eye problems are related to blood vessel damage in the retina of one or both eyes due to high blood sugar levels over the course of many years.
These complications are not temporary, although their progression can be slowed down.
Short-term blurred vision due to high or low blood sugar levels is temporary and will resolve when blood sugar levels return to normal.
When should I see a doctor if I have blurry vision?
A range of medical conditions can cause blurry vision, and diabetes is just one.
Most people who begin to suffer with blurred vision may simply need eyesight correction with the help of an optometrist. However, anyone who develops blurry vision should see a doctor – especially if the problem has appeared suddenly.
Eye problems can be related to new cases of diabetes or can be a complication of an existing condition.
Whether diabetes has yet to be diagnosed or is already under medical care, symptoms of blurred vision should always be fully investigated.
Routine eye examinations should be carried out for all diabetic patients, at least once every year. Doing so will pick up any eye complications while they are still minor.
Regular diabetes eye checks
In addition to the annual eye examination with an optometrist, a detailed view of the retina is also necessary. This is usually carried out as part of a diabetic screening program through GP referral once the diabetes has been diagnosed. In most instances these checks are also annual, but may need to be carried out more frequently if the ophthalmologist/specialist feels that it is needed.
Diabetic screening involves the specialist looking at the back of the eye (the retina) after dilating the eye (making the pupil bigger with a drug delivered via eye drops) and is often referred to as the dilated eye exam. It enables the detection of diabetic retinopathy – disease of the retina caused by diabetes.
If diabetic eye problems are known to have developed already, multiple follow-up checks will be recommended to take place every year.
Pregnant women should also have more regular checks.
Long-term eye problems with diabetes
Eye complications caused by diabetes are progressive. They can start at a point where they are found only by a specialist eye examination, before any eye or visual symptoms appear.
Eye disease caused by diabetes gets worse over time without treatment.
Retinopathy has the potential to progress onto increasingly worse states. Broadly, there are two stages of this eye disease:
With NPDR, the retina’s tiny blood vessels may be weakened and blocked. There may be bulges in them, or fluid can leak out. This can cause swelling in the central part of the retina.
NPDR can be classed as mild, moderate, or severe based on the extent of the blood vessel problem.
Swelling in the retina is known as macula oedema. It can cause vision problems because the macula is located centrally at the back of the eye and allows fine detail to be resolved.
PDR, the more advanced stage of eye disease that can be caused by diabetes, results from blood vessel problems. Vessels fail to get blood to the retina because they have closed up, and new vessels start to grow to compensate for this. This stage only develops in some people with diabetes and takes several years to develop.
The growth of new blood vessels does not provide normal blood flow to the retina, however, and it can lead to scarring and wrinkling. If this is severe enough, vision can become distorted. The retina can even become detached, causing a loss of vision.
The fragile new vessels can also bleed out. Symptoms of this can include floating spots in the vision. If a bleed from the retina into the central part of the eye is substantial, sight can sometimes be lost, leaving only the ability to tell light from dark.
Eventually, new vessels can also start forming in the iris, the part that gives people their eye color. This affects the balance of fluid inside the eye. Glaucoma is the result – a build up of pressure in the eye that can affect the optic nerve.
Treatment of long-term eye problems with diabetes
The goal of regular eye checks for diabetic patients is to identify problems with the retina at the earliest stages. It is good news if diabetes is well-controlled and no changes to the back of the eye can be seen for a number of years.
Keeping blood sugar levels under control is important for treating eye problems caused by diabetes.
When it is found at its earliest stages, retinopathy can be managed with monitoring and controlling those things that can affect eye health, such as high blood sugar level and high blood pressure.
Preventive measures can then be started in time to slow down the condition. Otherwise, retinopathy is a progressive condition that worsens if blood sugar levels remain too high.
Problems with the retina can be prevented by bringing sugar levels under control. Keeping tight control of blood sugar levels also slows down any retinopathy that has already been found.
The diet and lifestyle measures that are needed to manage diabetes are the same measures that prevent eye problems. Any further medical help for diabetes also controls the risk for eye complications.
Good blood sugar control also helps to keep another risk factor for eye problems under control – high blood pressure (hypertension).
Preventing high blood sugar levels can have wider benefits against other diabetes complications, too. Diabetic neuropathy, which can cause loss of sensation throughout the body, is due to damage to nerves due to high blood sugar levels.
Prevention with regular checks and strict diabetes management is better than managing the complication once it occurs. But if retinopathy does reach the later stages of progression, specific eye treatments may be needed.
Eye doctors may recommend:
When an individual sees a double image where there should only be one, it is referred to as double vision or diplopia. The two images can be side by side, one on top of the other, or a combination of both.
Double vision can affect just one eye (monocular) or both eyes (binocular). Treatments vary depending on the cause and type but include eye exercises, specially designed glasses, and surgery.
Other than the obvious difficulties of navigating the world while viewing a double image, double vision can also cause disruptions in balance, movement and reading ability.
There are a number of potential causes for double vision. As a result, the treatment depends on the particular patient. Some of the underlying causes are minor, others are serious. For this reason, any instances of double vision should be checked by a physician sooner rather than later.
This article will take a look at the potential causes, diagnosis, and treatment of double vision.
Fast facts on double vision (diplopia)
Here are some key points about double vision (diplopia).
Causes of binocular double vision
Each eye creates its own image of the environment. These two representations are combined by the brain so that they are be perceived as one clear picture.
If damage occurs to the muscles that move the eyes or the nerves that control that movement, a double image can be created.
It is necessary for both eyes to be functioning together to create depth of field.
Alternatively, the muscles moving the eyes can become weakened by certain illnesses and produce double vision.
In some cases, the eyes may not be properly aligned. This condition is referred to as a squint or strabismus. Squints are relatively common in children but do not necessarily result in double vision.
Squints cause the eyes to look in slightly different directions. This might be because the affected eye muscle(s):
Sometimes, a treated squint in childhood can return in adult life and in some cases, the treatment of a squint can actually cause double vision, despite the individual’s vision being normal before the squint was treated. This is because the brain had been suppressing signals from one of the eyes in an attempt to maintain normal vision.
Temporary double vision
In some cases, double vision can be temporary. Temporary double vision is often caused by alcohol intoxication, benzodiazepines, opioids, or certain types of drugs for seizures and epilepsy. Head injuries, like concussions, can also cause temporary double vision.
Being particularly tired or having strained eyes can bring on temporary double vision. If normal vision does not come back quickly, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
Other causes of double vision
Other than a squint, there are a number of potential conditions that can cause double vision. These include:
Certain thyroid problems can cause double vision.
Causes of monocular double vision
If double vision is noted when one eye is covered and not when the other eye is covered, this is referred to as monocular double vision.
Monocular double vision is less common than binocular double vision and can be caused by the following conditions:
Diagnosing double vision
Diagnosing double vision can be challenging for an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) because of the vast array of potential causes. These can range from minor causes to some that are potentially more serious.
One of the first questions a specialist will ask is whether the diplopia is monocular or binocular. If the double vision is monocular, it means that the problem is more likely to be within the eye rather than with the nerves that control the muscles of the eyes or with the muscles themselves.
Diagnosing double vision in children
As children cannot always express what they are perceiving, diagnosing double vision in children can be more difficult. Things to watch out for include:
Treatments for double vision
The course of treatment for double vision depends on the underlying cause:
Astigmatism refers to an abnormally curved cornea. In many cases, corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses) can counteract the curvature and correct the passage of incoming light into the eye. In certain cases, surgery may also be an option.
Cataracts commonly occur as we age and can sometimes cause double vision. In most cases, surgery is the best option. During the surgical procedure, the ‘cloudy’ lens which is the cause of the double vision is removed.
Treatments for binocular double vision
Depending on the cause, the treatments for binocular vision vary, but they include:
When viewing an object that is far away, the eye – if we are perfectly sighted – is shaped so that the object is clearly focused on the retina. This means that the image is clear. When we look at something close up, for example reading a book, the muscles inside the eye that surround the lens contract to make the lens change shape. This focuses the light from the book onto the retina.
The lens inside a child’s eyes is elastic, and so will naturally alter its shape easily to allow for a change in focus from a distant to near object. As we get older however, the lens will stiffen and so change shape less easily. This means that the distance up to which we are able to focus becomes longer and we are no longer able to focus on things that are close to us, having to hold them further away to see them clearly. This is more noticeable with very close work, for example, when threading a needle. It can also mean that it may take longer for us to focus from looking at something close up to looking at something far away (or vice versa).
This change in focusing tends to become more noticeable when we reach our late thirties or forties as we then find it difficult to focus on things that are at the normal reading distance. It is quite common to see people who are presbyopic holding things away from them in an attempt to see them clearly. As this affects things that are close to us first, our vision of things that are further away – such as the computer – is not affected until later, when the lens has lost almost all of its elasticity.
This loss in elasticity is corrected with spectacles. This may mean having separate pairs for distance and reading and maybe for middle distance such as looking at the computer or reading sheet music.
What is the treatment for presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a natural part of ageing and there is no cure for it. The solution is generally to wear glasses for reading. Because reading glasses focus light from close objects, it is normal to find that distant objects are blurred when looking through them. They can either be removed for distance viewing or alternatively, bifocal or varifocal lenses can be used.
Bifocal lenses consist of two separate areas of the lens which are separated by a line: the top part of the lens focuses light from distant objects, and the bottom part of the lens focuses light from near objects. Varifocal lenses work in a similar way to bifocal lenses but without a visible line on the lens. This is because the power gradually changes from the top to the bottom of the lens, to allow objects at any distance to be seen clearly, simply by moving the head up and down to look through a different part of the lens.
Are there exercises I can do to stop needing reading glasses?
Presbyopia is not caused by muscle weakness but by the lens stiffening as we age. There are no exercises that can help this.
If you have any further questions please contact us
Computer Eye Strain: 10 Steps For Relief
With so many of us using computers at work, computer eye strain has become a major job-related complaint. Studies show that eye strain and other bothersome visual symptoms occur in 50 to 90 percent of computer workers.
These problems can range from physical fatigue, decreased productivity and increased numbers of work errors, to minor annoyances like eye twitching and red eyes.
Here are 10 easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of computer eye strain and other common symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS):
Having a routine comprehensive eye exam is the most important thing you can do to prevent or treat computer vision problems. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule a visit with an optician.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), computer users should have an eye exam before they start working on a computer and once a year thereafter.
During your exam, be sure to tell your optician how often you use a computer at work and at home. Measure how far your eyes are from your screen when you sit at your computer, and bring this measurement to your exam so your eye doctor can test your eyes at that specific working distance.
Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from harsh interior lighting. When you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices.
Eliminate exterior light by closing drapes, shades or blinds. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes. If possible, position your computer monitor or screen so windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
Many computer users find their eyes feel better if they can avoid working under overhead fluorescent lights. If possible, turn off the overhead fluorescent lights in your office and use floor lamps that provide indirect incandescent or halogen lighting instead.
Sometimes switching to “full spectrum” fluorescent lighting that more closely approximates the light spectrum emitted by sunlight can be more comforting for computer work than regular fluorescent tubes. But even full spectrum lighting can cause discomfort if it’s too bright. Try reducing the number of fluorescent tubes installed above your computer workspace if you are bothered by overhead lighting.
Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and, if possible, paint bright white walls a darker colour with a matte finish.
Again, cover the windows. When outside light cannot be reduced, consider using a computer hood.
If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.
If you have not already done so, replace your old tube-style monitor (called a cathode ray tube or CRT) with a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD), like those on laptop computers.
LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. Old-fashioned CRT screens can cause a noticeable “flicker” of images, which is a major cause of computer eye strain. Even if this flicker is imperceptible, it still can contribute to eye strain and fatigue during computer work.
Complications due to flicker are even more likely if the refresh rate of the monitor is less than 75 hertz (Hz). If you must use a CRT at work, adjust the display settings to the highest possible refresh rate.
When choosing a new flat panel display, select a screen with the highest resolution possible. Resolution is related to the “dot pitch” of the display. Generally, displays with a lower dot pitch have sharper images. Choose a display with a dot pitch of .28 mm or smaller.
Flicker is not an issue with LCD screens, since the brightness of pixels on the display are controlled by a “backlight” that typically operates at 200 Hz.
If you see a lower refresh rate (e.g. 60 Hz) noted on an LCD screen, don’t worry — this refers to how often a new image is received from the video card, not how often the pixel brightness of the display is updated, and this function typically is not associated with eye strain.
Finally, choose a relatively large display. For a desktop computer, select a display that has a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches.
Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Generally, these adjustments are beneficial:
For computers running on a Microsoft Windows operating system, display settings can be adjusted in Control Panel. For an Apple computer, display settings are found in Systems Preferences (in the Applications folder in Finder).
In some cases, the colour temperature of a desktop computer monitor is adjusted on the display itself.
You can adjust text size when using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and other browsers, too. For example, in Firefox, you can enlarge an entire webpage by using the keyboard command Ctrl + as many times as you want, while Ctrl 0 makes everything normal-sized again. (Ctrl – makes everything smaller.) To enlarge only the text, use Alt V, then Z, then T. Then use Ctrl + again, and you’ll see just the text enlarging.
Each browser and email program has different commands for adjusting text size, so look through the menus to learn what they are. Or visit Google and search for how-tos there.
Many smartphones let you adjust text size. For example, on the iPhone 4, you simply open the Settings menu, then choose General, then Accessibility, then Large Text. Here you can choose a new font size for core applications such as Mail, Notes and Calendar. The font will also display in certain third-party applications.
Whatever type of digital screen you’re using, you’ll enjoy it more if you make the effort to adjust the view for your visual comfort. Don’t know how? Check the manufacturer’s website or look it up on Google.
Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.
When working at a computer, people blink less frequently — about one-third as often as they normally do — and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures, according to studies.
Tears coating the eye evaporate more rapidly during long non-blinking phases and this can cause dry eyes. Also, the air in many office environments is dry, which can increase how quickly your tears evaporate, placing you at greater risk for dry eye problems.
If you experience dry eye symptoms, ask your eye doctor about artificial tears for use during the day.
By the way, don’t confuse lubricating eye drops with the drops formulated to “get the red out.” The latter can indeed make your eyes look better — they contain ingredients that reduce the size of blood vessels on the surface of your eyes to “whiten” them. But they are not necessarily formulated to reduce dryness and irritation.
To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.
To ease eye strain, make sure you use good lighting and sit at a proper distance from the computer screen.
Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.
Another exercise is to look far away at an object for 10-15 seconds, then gaze at something up close for 10-15 seconds. Then look back at the distant object. Do this 10 times.
This exercise reduces the risk of your eyes’ focusing ability to “lock up” (a condition called accommodative spasm) after prolonged computer work.
Both of these exercises will reduce your risk of computer eye strain. Also, remember to blink frequently during the exercises to reduce your risk of computer-related dry eye.
To reduce your risk for computer vision syndrome and neck, back and shoulder pain, take frequent breaks during your computer work day.
Computer Vision News
New Report on Digital Eye Strain
“Eye Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma” is The Vision Council’s latest report on digital eye strain.
With our constant exposure to digital devices, the document reveals that not only young adults, but children and older folks, too, are experiencing symptoms like eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision and pain in the neck, shoulder and back.
Many workers take only two 15-minute breaks from their computer throughout their work day. According to a recent NIOSH study, discomfort and eye strain were significantly reduced when computer workers took four additional five-minute “mini-breaks” throughout their work day.
And these supplementary breaks did not reduce the workers’ productivity. Data entry speed was significantly faster as a result of the extra breaks, so work output was maintained even though the workers had 20 extra minutes of break time each day.
During your computer breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle fatigue.
Check your local bookstore or consult your fitness club for suggestions on developing a quick sequence of exercises you can perform during your breaks and after work to reduce tension in your arms, neck, shoulders and back.
If you need to look back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen, this can cause eye strain. Place written pages on a copy stand adjacent to the monitor.
Light the copy stand properly. You may want to use a desk lamp, but make sure it doesn’t shine into your eyes or onto your computer screen.
Improper posture during computer work also contributes to computer vision syndrome. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height.
Purchase ergonomic furniture to enable you to position your computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The centre of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck.
For the greatest comfort at your computer, you might benefit from having your eye care professional modify your glasses prescription to create customized computer glasses. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses, which may become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work.
Computer glasses also are a good choice if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, because these lenses generally are not optimal for the distance to your computer screen.
References & Notes >>
Blink rate, blink amplitude, and tear film integrity during dynamic visual display terminal tasks. Current Eye Research. March 2011. Computer Workstations. U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Accessed on OSHA website. June 2010. Computer Ergonomics. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on CDC website. June 2010. About the Author:
Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 25 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include contact lenses, nutrition and preventive vision care. Connect with Dr. Heiting via Google+.
MILLIONS are risking their eyesight by not getting regular eye tests – despite it being the sense they treasure the most, according to a report from National Eye Health Week .
The Generation Eye Report(1) – found almost 14 million people in the UK are not having an eye test as recommended at least every two years, despite 55 per cent saying deteriorating vision is their biggest worry about getting older.
The research, unveiled on the first day of National Eye Health Week (19 to 25 September), investigated the value people place on their vision and the depth of knowledge in the UK about eye health. Based on a survey of more than 2000 UK adults it revealed three quarters (75%) of people had suffered poor eye health in the last 12 months and more than one in five (22%) said this had restricted or impaired their daily life. This is despite studies showing that nearly half of all cases of sight loss are preventable2.
David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week, says: ‘What our study found was that millions are totally in the dark when it comes to eyes and eye health.
‘National Eye Health Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all. An eye test at an opticians is quick and easy, and for a lot of people, including children and over-60s, is free on the NHS.
‘Poor eye health is affecting every aspect of daily life. This National Eye Health Week, our message is clear: people across the UK, of all backgrounds, age groups and genders need to recognise that our vision is both precious and fragile, and thus the risks to it need to be understood, accepted and addressed.’
Despite the number of people not getting regular tests, the report found deteriorating vision was people’s number one fear of getting old – ahead of illness (50%) and losing their hearing (32%).
Dr Nigel Best, says: ‘The Generation Eye Report makes startling reading. Millions are risking losing their sight unnecessarily because they fail to have regular sight tests and make poor life style choices
‘Half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention.
‘Raising awareness and educating people on the importance of looking after their eyes through regular testing and better lifestyle choices is absolutely vital to addressing the nation’s eye health problems.’
The report focused on three key groups: 18 – 24 year olds (The Unseen Generation), their parents (New Presbyopes) aged between 45 and 54 and their grandparents aged 65 and over (The Low Vision Generation).
Worryingly it found those aged 18-24 were the group whose quality of vision or state of eye health had most restricted or impaired their daily life (36%), with around a third (32%) not having an eye test in the last two years.
The report found 80% of 45 – 54 year olds said they’d experienced problems with their eye health in the last year.
While 94% of over-65s wore prescription eyewear however almost a third (32%) didn’t know wearing the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses could affect their eyesight.
(1)The Generation Eye report is based on the findings of a survey commissioned by National Eye health week and Specsavers. The survey was conducted by Atomik Research, in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations, on a representative sample of 2002 UK respondents aged 18+ between 24 – 31 August 2016. All figures quoted in this release are from this study unless otherwise quoted.
Published: 19 September 2016
Source – Visionmatters.org
What considerations do people with sight problems need to make when driving?
It’s important to have your sight tested if you think you may have a problem with your eyesight, in fact, studies suggest that up to one in five middle aged drivers are taking to the road knowing their eyesight is not as good as it should be. It is not just common sense to ensure your eyesight is good enough to enable you to drive comfortably, but you will be breaking the law if it isn’t.
What is the legal responsibility?
A driver of a car or motorbike must be able to read a number plate, with symbols, 79mm high by 50mm wide, from a distance of 20 metres AND a driver should have a visual acuity of at least 6/12 with both eyes open. This can be done with glasses or contact lenses if you usually wear them. The law also requires drivers to have a wide field of vision, your optometrist will tell you if you may not meet the field of vision standard. Bus and Larry drivers are required to have a higher standard of vision.
If you are not able to do this, your insurance may be invalidated. Driving with uncorrected defective vision is an offence punishable with a heavy fine, penalty licence points and possible driving disqualification.
The eyesight test involving reading number plates is conducted as part of the driving test. As the law stands however, no further sight checks are needed until the driver reaches the age of 70, so the responsibility lies with you to ensure you wear corrective eyewear if necessary. Check your vision regularly by reading a number plate from a distance of 20 metres. If you notice any changes, visit your optometrist for an eye examination.
What if I have been diagnosed with glaucoma?
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes, this will affect the amount you can see, and the law says that you must tell the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority). You may have to take some extra tests, but most people are still allowed to carry on driving. You can find out more at www.direct.gov.uk/driverhealth
How can people ensure their vision is roadworthy?
Always wear an up-to-date pair of glasses or contact lenses while driving, if they are needed, and go for a regular sight test to make sure your prescription is up to date. It’s a good idea to keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle too; in France and some other European countries drivers who wear glasses must, by law, carry a spare pair in the car. If possible, have an anti-reflection coat on your glasses and keep your car windscreen clean inside and out so you can see as clearly as possible.
What can occur specifically when driving at night to impact our driving?
Night driving is certainly more demanding than driving during the day; this is particularly true of older people, who may test well with their optometrist, but struggle to focus on the road at night. If you notice any particular difference in your vision when driving by night, it’s important to see your optometrist for advice. I would also point out that tinted lenses should not be used for night driving, and to make sure your windscreen is clean on the inside and outside.
A recent survey revealed that children now spend nearly five hours a day using the likes of Facebook, watching films & TV and messaging friends.
As an optician it’s worrying that children are spending so long doing such activities as there’s a chance they could be risking their long-term eye health without knowing it.
The problem is blue light which, put simply, is part of the visible light spectrum that we use to see the world. “Good” blue light (Blue-Turquoise) is essential for children’s vision, development and well-being. “Bad” blue light (Blue-Violet) can be harmful to their developing eyes.
What many people don’t know is that blue-violet light is emitted by computers, tablets, smart phones and flat-screen TVs however, banning children from using tech is not really a practical solution and children are actually exposed to higher amounts of blue-violet light in other ways. In homes and schools, energy saving light bulbs radiate this light, while outdoors, come rain or shine, significant amounts of ultra-violet (UV) and blue light from sunlight reach ground level.
The effects of UV rays and blue-violet light are cumulative and can accelerate the development of eye disease during adult life. With an increased exposure to technology much earlier in life and children spending three times more time outside than adults we need to think about protecting their eyes now. Here are my top tips:
Diet – serve up green leafy veg like spinach, kale and broccoli
Tech – limit the amount of time spent on tablets, smartphones or watching TV and encourage them to keep their eyes as far away from the screen as possible.
Sunglasses – a pair of good quality sunglasses offers tremendous protection
Indoors – a new of prescription spectacle lens, Crizal Prevencia, will protect indoors and out. It is designed to let “good” Blue-Turquoise light in and filter out “bad” Blue-Violet light.
Optician – the best thing you can do for your eye health is go for regular eye checks with a trained professional at least every two years.
Riskometer – check your child’s exposure to blue light by using the www.thinkaboutyoureyes.co.uk “Blue Light Riskometer”
Source – Andy Hepworth, Optician