Sight is one of the most precious senses we have, and without it it’s very easy to feel quite lost. As we live in an increasingly visual world, the amount of sight loss across the UK is unacceptable; even more so when you learn that at least half of sight loss can be avoided.
It is so important and so easy to look after your eyes. Doing so properly can help to prevent future health conditions, both in relation to your vision and your overall wellbeing. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the key facts surrounding sight loss and some top tips to help you prevent it.
Reasons for sight loss
One of the most prevalent reasons for sight loss is due to uncorrected refractive errors. This can mean you struggle to see things close up, far away or both. It’s important to note that this can be easily corrected by wearing the right glasses prescription.
Every 6 minutes someone is told they are going blind, with approximately 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss. Despite this, many forms of eye diseases can be treated, including cataracts. What’s more, sight loss due to eye conditions such as glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy can all be avoided if they are detected and managed early enough.
Are you at risk of sight loss?
Sight loss can affect anyone, no matter your age or circumstances. However, there are some that may be at more risk than others. For instance, as we age the risk factor increases. 1 in 9 people over 60 years old live with sight loss; a statistic that increases to 1 in 5 people once you reach 75.
Some children may also be at greater risk, particularly if they were born prematurely or have a very low birth weight.
Your ethnicity can sometimes have an impact too. It has been found that Black African and Caribbean people are 4-8 times more at risk of glaucoma than white people, while Southern Asian people are around 3 times more at risk of diabetic eye disease.
Other genetic factors can increase your risks of developing eye conditions as many are hereditary so it’s important to know your family’s eye health history.
Those suffering from diabetes are also at higher risk of experiencing problems with their vision.
How to prevent sight loss
It has been predicted that the number of people with sight loss in the UK will increase; by 2050, it could reach over 4 million people. The leading cause of blindness in adults is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), followed by significant causes such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Despite this, it’s easier than you think to look after your eyes in order to prevent sight loss. The number one method is to attend regular eye examinations. This isn’t just to check your vision abilities; your optician can detect changes in your health too. Did you know that your optician can spot early signs of conditions such as cardiovascular disease?
It’s also important to make healthy lifestyle choices to ensure healthy vision. This includes not smoking. Smoking can increase your chance of developing an eye disease. You should also aim to follow a healthy balanced diet, both for your eye health and the health of the rest of your body.
A key way to protect your eyes when out and about is to ensure you are wearing glasses that protect your skin and eyes from UV light. UV light can be detrimental to your eye health, so by wearing suitable glasses or sunglasses with embedded protection, you can enjoy the sun safely.