Your life and eyes 4 min read

World Sight Day

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Every year, the second Thursday of October plays host to World Sight Day; this year it falls on 10th October. World Sight Day is designed to encourage you to think about your eyesight and the things you can do to avoid vision impairment, including attending an eye examination. This year’s theme is #putvisionfirst.

When was the last time you visited an optician? Your eyesight might seem perfectly normal, but by attending an eye examination every 2 years, you can increase your chance of detecting any changes quicker. Eye health issues can affect anyone at any age, and it is predicted that by 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to over 4 million.

Often, sight loss problems can be avoided altogether simply just by wearing correctly prescribed lenses.

The epidemic you don’t see coming

Short-sighted (myopia) rates are soaring everywhere. In Europe numbers are growing fast with a prevalence of 30-40% of people suffering from myopia, this figure has almost doubled over the last 30 years and its projected that 1 in 2 people will have myopia by 2050(1).

Myopia can start at an early age

If you suffer from it your children are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop short-sightedness, if both parents are myopic, the risk can increase to 5-6 times(1). 80% of what children learn is through their eyes. If you notice your child squints or partially closes to see things in the distance, struggle to see the board in class, experience delays in learning or have difficulty with certain outdoor activities, they could be suffering from short-sightedness. A standard eye exam can pick this up allowing an optician to prescribe corrective glasses.

How to correct short-sightedness

How do you know if you are myopic?

If you squint or partially close your eyes to see things in the distance, suffer from headaches or regularly have tired eyes at the end of the day you might be suffering from myopia. Talk to your optician and they will be able to check this with a standard eye test. The most common sign is blurred vision when looking at something in the distance or not being able to see fine details, this can easily be corrected with single vision lenses.

Catch it early

Set up routine eye exams, especially for children. Every 2 years, unless told otherwise by your optician, will allow you to regularly monitor the development and efficiently manage myopia if it is discovered. Make the most of daylight and go outside for at least 2 to 2.5 hours a day. Take a break every 20 minutes from near work activities and ensure that there’s sufficient lighting when working on a screen to reduce strain on your eyes.

How to reduce your chances of other vision impairments

An ageing world population is a contributing factor to the increased levels of vision impairment(2). The older you get, the more at risk you are of developing eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. World Sight Day is here to remind you that you can take vital steps to decrease your chances and avoid the experience of vision loss.

Attending eye examinations regularly is one of the easiest ways to identify emerging problems with your vision or eye health. An eye exam can detect any problems with your sight and make sure your lenses are doing their job. An eye exam can also pick up signs of high blood pressure, glaucoma, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Your lifestyle can have a huge influence on your overall health and wellbeing. Diet and weight both should be healthy, make sure you include all the right vitamins and minerals for healthy eyes. Likewise, quitting smoking or avoiding excessive alcohol can promote healthier vision. Smoking can increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and may lead to optic nerve damage.

An increased use of digital devices can also impact your eyes. Visual fatigue, sometimes known as computer vision syndrome, is common due to looking at digital screens without a break. It can leave your eyes feeling tired, itchy or dry, impacting your everyday activities. There are many ways to prevent or reduce eyestrain such as the 20-20-20 rule, everywhere 20 minutes of working on a screen take 20 seconds to focus on something 20 feet away.

How to combat eye fatigue with the 20-20-20 rule

Protecting your eyes for healthy vision

Harmful UV and Blue-Violet light can lead to premature eye ageing(3). Both come from the sun, while Blue-Violet light also, in smaller quantities, comes from LEDs. Overexposure to these types of light can increase your risks of developing cataracts and AMD. There are many factors that can play towards the development of these eye conditions and light is one of the modifiable factors.

Eye Protect System by Essilor is a technology built into our lenses, offering front and back protection from harmful light. It is embedded into the lens itself, partially filtering Blue-Violet light and absorbing UV light.

Ahead of World Sight Day, consider your current habits and what you could do to improve your chances of prolonged healthy vision. If you require corrective or protective lenses in order to enhance your vision, your local optician can provide helpful advice.

World Sight Day is co-ordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

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(1) Simplified Extrapolation AMD model. Essilor International, DMS, EL, Jan. 2013. United nation: World Population Prospects, epidemiological and marketing studies.(3) McCarty CA, Taylor HR. A review of the epidemiologic evidence linking ultraviolet radiation and cataracts. Dev Ophthalmol. 2002; 35:21-31.Sunlight and the 10-year incidence of age-related maculopathy: The Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch. Ophthalmol., 122, 750-757.New discoveries and therapies in retinal phototoxicity, Serge Picaud et Emilie Arnault, Points de Vue N°68, Spring 2013.

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