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One million Brits blighted by avoidable sight loss

NEW STUDY: A million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss

EYE HEALTH experts today (Sep 18) marked National Eye Health Week (18 – 24 September) with a stark warning that a million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives – leaving them unable to do things such as drive. And worryingly, this number is forecast to rise by a third by 2030, if we don’t take action now.

David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week explains: “Eyesight declines as part of the natural aging process and some cases of sight loss are still sadly unavoidable but for many simply going for regular eyes tests and adopting a healthier lifestyle could prevent sight loss having a significant impact on our lives and help people to live well for longer.”

Your lifestyle can impact your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition. Being physically active has been shown to reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle; whilst ditching a diet high in meat – more than 3.5oz daily (the equivalent of two small sausages) – could help cut your risk of cataract.

Research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption. Making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today.

There is also growing evidence to suggest that what we eat and drink can play a role in triggering the onset and progression of AMD. One research study has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week could reduce your risk of developing AMD by as much as 40 per cent, whilst, heavy drinking (three or more standard drinks per day) has been associated with the development of early AMD

Poor uptake of regular eye tests, once every two years unless advised otherwise by your optometrist, is also a big risk factor for unnecessary sight loss as the early detection and treatment of common eye conditions like glaucoma is essential to avoid irreversible sight loss.

Almost 14 million (13.8) of us fail to have regular eye tests yet your optometrist can spot signs of glaucoma years before you may notice a change in your vision. In fact, there are an estimated 300,000 people living in the UK with undiagnosed glaucoma because they have not had a recent eye test.

David Cartwright concludes: “Over the next seven days National Eye Health Week will seek to inspire people to make small lifestyle changes that could make a big difference to their future eye health.”

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