What is National Eye Health Week?

National eye health week is about raising awareness which takes place this year from Monday 23rd September to Friday 27th September promoting and educating people about the importance of eye health. This will be the seventh annual National Eye Health Week. The main aim of National Eye Health Week is to create a community that is free from the impact of sight loss. In addition to this, the key interest is to lead a collaboration of interested organisations, eye care charities and health professionals from across the UK joining together to promote and to improve the eye health of the UK, prevent avoidable sight loss.

There are currently over 2 million people living in the UK who live with sight loss, which has a significant impact on their daily lives. It is predicted that by 2030 the number will increase to over 2.7 million people.

Why Are Eye Tests Important?

Eye tests are important because they are a vital health check for your eyes in order to detect any early signs of eye conditions before you are aware of the symptoms and many which can be treated in advance. A sight test specifically tells you whether you need to wear glasses for the first time to improve your vision such as for reading purposes or long distance reading short sighted, long-sighted or for you need to wear glasses permanently, it will also show whether you need to change/upgrade your current glasses to improve eyesight. Health conditions which can affect your eyes include diabetes, macular degeneration and glaucoma.  A sight test is not only a test for your eyes but also as a general health check.

Optometrists recommend that most people should get their eyes tested every two years. However, it can be more frequent NHS sight tests for example if you are a child wearing glasses, if you have diabetes, if you are aged 40 or over with a family history of glaucoma if you are aged 70 or over.r

The way in which a sight test is carried out is governed by the law for two specific purposes: to identify what your level of vision is and whether you need glasses to correct your sight.

At the end of your sight test, the results are you are told by your optician whether your sight needs correcting or whether you need to be referred for further investigation. The prescription form then contains a statement which varies depending on your results. This states either you don’t need glasses, or your current glasses don’t need changing or if you have been given a new or changed prescription or whether you are being referred to your GP/eye clinic.

eye test glasses  


What are the Causes of Sight Loss?

There are many different causes which can contribute to sight loss. Although this can vary different eye conditions can lead to sight loss such as Glaucoma, Age Related Macular Degeneration, Cataract and many others and some of us may not notice the symptoms immediately so it is best to go for an eye test or see your GP if you are experiencing eye sight problems. 

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration is the main cause of blindness in adults. This is an eye condition which affects the central part of your retina which is called the macula. It causes changes in your central vision which can make some everyday tasks difficult. It doesn’t cause pain however and does not cause a total loss of sight. AMD affects your vision when you look directly at something, for example, watching television or looking at photos or looking at a computer screen. 

macular degeneration diagram


What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is another cause of sight loss which is an eye condition where your optic nerve is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye. There are often no symptoms so it is identified by a regular eye test and there is no treatment, however, treatments via eye drops, laser surgery can prevent sight loss from happening.

The cause of glaucoma is the result of high fluid pressure inside your eye. This happens when the liquid in the front part of the eye doesn’t circulate the way it should. Normally, the fluid, called aqueous humour, flows out of your eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel gets blocked then the liquid builds up. This is what causes glaucoma and the reason is unknown, but doctors state that it is most likely inherited so passed on from parents to children.

Less common causes include a blunt or chemical injury to your eye, severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels inside your eye and inflammatory conditions. 

Glaucoma Diagram

What is Cataract?

At least 50 per cent of sight loss can be avoided. Many older people are living with sight loss and almost two thirds of sight loss in older people is caused by refractive error and cataract. Both conditions can easily be diagnosed with a simple eye test and can be improved by prescribing the right glasses or cataract surgery.

Cataract is another cause of sight loss which changes the lens in your eye which results in your sight being cloudy and misty.  The surgery works by removing and replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens and most people over the age of 65 develop cataracts.

Cataracts Diagram

In terms of over 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss, it is estimated that around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. This can be a shock to the individual being told they have visual impairment can feel emotional, shocking, anger, denial before eventually coming to accept their condition similar to a bereavement.

How can Sight Loss be Managed?

    • Specialist referral: If you are blind or partially sighted you are often referred to a specialist low vision clinic, often located within a hospital. Their role is to help you to understand your condition and come to terms with your diagnosis. They also can advise you about practical things, such as lighting and vision aids, with further sources of information for help and support. Another useful way to help yourself is to ask your local hospital if they have an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer their role in which is to support people with vision loss in eye clinics.
    • There are also support groups for people with vision loss.
    • Royal National Institute of Blind People: This is the UK’s leading charity for people with vision loss and offer a variety of different services such as reading services, a helpline, practical help such as money and finance, employment and work, children young people and families in order to improve the living quality for people suffering from vision loss.
    • Guide Dogs charity is another excellent example which has been providing blind people with dogs to help blind people to get around, providing a sense of independence and companionship. Guide Dogs provide all the essential equipment free of charge and can offer other financial assistance such as food or vet costs. They aim to reduce the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, helping to rebuild their confidence and regain their independence.
    • Other national charities that specialise in vision loss include The Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, RP Fighting Blindness, Diabetes UK, Blind Veterans UK, Vision 2020
    • There are also local voluntary organisations which help and support people in the UK with vision problem
    • In terms of reading and writing, one of the simplest options is to use magnifying devices that can make print appear bigger to help you read. These can be obtained from a number of places including hospital low vision services, optometrists, local voluntary organisations, and the RNIB
    • The RNIB also has a collection of large print publications you can borrow, as do most libraries
    • You could also use an e-reader to help you read. E-readers are handheld devices that allow you to download books and subscribe to newspapers and magazines on the internet. You can choose a setting that allows you to display text at a larger size
    • British Blind Sport is also another very helpful which is a charity that enables blind and partially sighted people to have the same opportunities as sighted people to access and enjoy sport and recreational activities.


       British Blind SportBlind Veterans UKInternational Glaucoma Assosciation


Further Support in Sight Loss

There are also many other ways of dealing with sight loss. 

You are not alone in this! There are many other services to help with advice, support and guidance for people suffering from sight loss. National Eye Health Week 2019 NHS is all about improving the quality and making people feel more secure promoting helping others in need to try to maintain sight and let sight loss victims aware that there are many charities and organisations willing to help.

National Eye Research Centre is a leading eye research charity which funds the research for the causes of treatments for eye disease, sight loss and blindness. These results are then published to stimulate further research advances in ophthalmology. 

Why is Eye Health Important?

    • Vital to your overall happiness and well-being.
    • Over 80% of the information which we take in from the world is through our eyes.
    • Your eyes can capture and interpret more than one million pulse signals per millisecond and transmit to the brain.
    • Your eyes are truly amazing organs.
    • Like other organs of your body, your eyes are also subject to stress and injury and can lose their full potential if they are not properly taken care of.
    • It is vital to maintaining your eye health even when you grow older.
    • Healthy eyes are a critical component in learning and experiencing growth and development.
    • Living a healthy lifestyle helps to improve eye health.


 How do you look after your eyes?

    • Visit the optician regularly
    • Stop smoking
    • Eat healthily and maintain weight
    • Keep your eyes covered in the sun
    • Safety first wear safety goggles reduce injuries, especially when exposed to chemical substances, protective sports goggles to reduce the amount of injuries whilst playing high risk sports.

healthy eyeslook after your eyes


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