National Eye Health Week – your vision matters!

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Friday, September 26th, 2014
Research from the College of Optometrists shows that 84% of adults value their sight more than any other sense, yet many people are living with poor vision and putting their sight at risk because of failure to get their eyes checked. During National Eye Health Week the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding everyone of the importance of eye health and the need for everyone to have their eyes tested every two years. Dr Jackie McCall, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said, “This week is a valuable opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of having regular eye tests. “Over 50% of sight loss is preventable, so ensuring that we all have regular eye examinations will help prevent, or limit, the damage to their sight caused by certain eye conditions. “Regular sight checks are important for two reasons. Firstly, having your vision corrected can improve the quality of day-to-day life, and secondly, perhaps more importantly, regular sight tests can mean early detection of conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration which could lead to sight loss. In addition, evidence exists of the importance of vision as a risk factor for falls. “An optometrist may also be able to spot the signs of some broader health conditions with symptoms that affect the eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. “Eye examinations for children are vital to ensure that any visual problems such as squint, lazy eye (amblyopia) or short-sightedness (myopia) are detected and treated early to optimise vision. Other important steps people can take to help keep their eyes healthy include: • Stopping smoking. For help and advice see • Protecting eyes in bright sunlight or glare. • Eating well and taking regular exercise. For help and advice see • Wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes while doing DIY and/or sporting activities. • Taking regular screen breaks if working on screen, wearing goggles when necessary in the workplace. Dr McCall continued, “Regular eye examinations should form part of everyone’s health routine. After all, looking after your eyes is just as important as looking after the rest of your body. “If you do notice a change to your sight, never dismiss it as ‘just part of getting older’ – visit your local optometrist immediately.” The Health and Social Care Board commissions NHS eye examinations from over 260 easily-accessible registered optometry practices in Northern Ireland. For information on who is eligible for an NHS eye examination please see –
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