Raise your glasses for Eye Heath Week

Get your eyes tested – even if you don’t wear glasses – that’s the message from Lancashire’s optometrists’ during National Eye Health Week 2016 (19-25 September).

And to prove they’re a friendly bunch, they’re inviting you to pop in to your local optometrist’s practice and say hello – even if you’ve never had your eyes tested before.

And if you DO wear specs, they’ll even give them a quick MoT free of charge.

Around seven in ten of us wear spectacles to help us see better and around 13% use contact lenses, but many people who don’t use either will have walked past an optometrist’s door never thinking they could benefit from advice or an eye test:

“It may seem strange asking people who don’t wear glasses to visit an optometrist, but eye tests are far more advanced these days and can detect the early signs of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and glaucoma as well as checking your sight is in order,” said Clive Duerden, chair of the East Lancashire Local Optometric Committee (ELLOC).

“That’s why you should have your eyes tested regularly – for most people every two years – even if you don’t currently wear glasses. Also to drink plenty to keep your eyes hydrated and give them an occasional rest from screens.

“And it’s even more important with today’s lifestyles as we all spend so much time sitting in front of screens with artificial light tiring our eyes.”

CELEBRATING

East Lancashire’s opticians are also celebrating a year of the Integrated Eye Service, a groundbreaking partnership with the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, allowing minor eye conditions such as dry eyes, minor infections or ingrowing eyelashes to be treated by many local optometrists rather than patients having to attend hospital. The new treatment scheme is often more convenient for people with minor eye conditions and reduces pressure on the NHS.

A similar scheme has recently been launched In the Morecambe Bay area. Better Care Together operates in partnership with the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and includes a school based screening service for children.

“Our optometrists in the Morecambe Bay area are very excited to be part of Better Care Together which makes life easier for patients and helps the local NHS. We hope this excellent innovation will eventually be extended to cover the whole of Lancashire,” said Vic Cottam, chair of the North and West Lancashire Local Optometrists Committee.

According to research carried out for National Eye Health Week, two thirds of us value our eyesight above all other senses, but one in three admit leaving it over a month – and in some cases years – before seeking advice, even after noticing a deterioration in their sight.

“Our eyes are fairly low maintenance organs as a rule and do an amazing job with little effort – all we have to do is blink a couple of times after waking up in the morning and our world is visible in full colour.

“But imagine what your world would be like without your eyes working properly? That’s why it’s important to get them checked regularly and to follow the East Lancashire Local Optometrists top tips to take care of your eyes.”

Eye Health Top Tips

East Lancashire’s optometrists have produced some top tips to help you take care of your eyes.

  • Have your eyes tested at least every two years – even if you don’t wear glasses. A sight test takes less than thirty minutes and can detect early warning signs of many diseases.                                                                    
  • Know your family’s eye health history. Many diseases and conditions are hereditary.
  • Take regular breaks from your computer and other screens. Try the 20-20 rule: look away from your screens for twenty seconds every twenty minutes.
  • Eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and take plenty of exercise. It’s the old chestnut, but it’s an important one. Studies have shown that what we eat affects our vision, and exercise can reduce the risk of sight loss from high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Your tear ducts and the delicate skin around your eyes are particularly susceptible to dryness.
  • Protect your eyes. Always wear sunglasses in bright outdoor light and protective eyewear when needed at work, doing DIY or playing some sports.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses, and disinfect contact lenses when not in use.

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