National Eye Health Week brings organisations and health professionals from across Wales and the UK together to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular sight tests.

Now in its eighth year, National Eye Health Week brings organisations and health professionals from across Wales together to raise awareness of the need for regular sight tests and how lifestyle habits can affect sight.

Regular sight tests provide the basis for maintaining good eye health, as some serious eye conditions do not have any visible early warning symptoms. Having a sight test with an optometrist should be part of everyone’s health care routine.

In Wales, there are 106,980 people living with sight loss, which is significant enough to impact their daily lives. This includes people who may not be wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses, people waiting for cataract operations and people living with partial sight or blindness.

Approximately 250 people in the UK, including 3 people in Wales lose their sight every day.

Here are some steps you can take to look after your eyes:

  1. Makes sure you have regular sight tests. Most people should have an eye test at least once every two years as over half of all sight loss is avoidable. Eye tests can check for eye conditions and general health issues too.
  2. You might be entitled to a free eye test – NHS eye tests are free for people aged 60+ years , for children, for people on income-related benefits and if you have a family history of eye disease. Also in Wales, over 90% of opticians are signed up to the Wales Eye Care Service (WECS) and provide free eye examinations for certain groups at risk of sight loss, including Black and Minority Ethnic Communities. For more information and to find your nearest optician, please see www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk.
  3. Stop smoking as this has been linked to eye conditions that can cause permanent damage to your sight.
  4. If you wear contact lenses remember to keep them clean.
  5. Eat well and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. This can also help prevent diabetes, which can also cause sight loss. Stock up on leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.
  6. Know your family history. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and can run in families. But, if caught early, it can be treated and controlled and your sight protected. So may sure you have regular sight tests.
  7. Protect your eyes in sunlight from harmful UV rays. Make sure you wear sunglasses with a CE or British Standard mark.
  8. Finally – take a break! We spend so much time looking at computer screens, this can put a strain on your eyes. So take a break every half hour and give your eyes the rest they deserve.