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Simple Advice to Save Your Sight in National Eye Health Week

Residents of Hackney will be encouraged to take better care of their sight during National Eye Health Week (22 – 28 September) with a series of pop-up eye health info points around the borough. 

In Hackney, the majority of sight loss is caused by complications of diabetes and the second most common cause is glaucoma, caused by optic nerve damage. National Eye Health Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of having a regular sight test and inspire people to make healthier lifestyle choices that will help protect their vision. 

Dr Penny Bevan, Director of Public Health, said: “Everyday life can put a strain on your eyes but regular sight testing and making the right lifestyle choices can keep them healthy. Many causes of sight loss are preventable. A healthy diet, not smoking, protecting your eyes from the sun and limiting screen time can protect your eyes and your vision.”Volunteers and members of Hackney Council’s Sensory Team will be available throughout Eye Health Week in the following locations to provide help and advice on keeping your eyes healthy and living with sight loss.

Monday (10am -1pm) Hackney Central Library

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (10am – 4pm) Hackney Service Centre

Thursday (10am – 12.30pm) Ridley Road Market 

Saturday (1.30pm – 4.30pm) Victoria Park Village

If a visual impairment is affecting your day-to-day life then help is available, even if you are not registered as blind. The Sensory Team is Hackney Council’s specialist unit dedicated to enabling people to overcome challenges they may face living with sight loss. To contact the Sensory Team call 020 8356 6262, email sensory.team@hackney.gov.uk or visit hackney.gov.uk/disabilities-and-accessibility.htm

For more information on keeping your eye healthy visit visionmatters.org.uk or check out the Six Simple Sight Savers below.

Six Simple Sight Savers

1. Eat right for good sight. Eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables and fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight. Vitamins B and E can help protect against cataracts whilst omega-3 fish oils help maintain healthy blood vessels inside the eye. Research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week can lead to a 40% reduction in your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is an eye condition that generally leads to the gradual loss of central vision and can cause a rapid reduction in vision. Keeping to a healthy weight also reduces your risk of diabetes, the complications of which are the main cause of sight loss in Hackney.

2. Quit smoking. Smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye. This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts; dry eye and poor colour vision.

3. Watch your weight. A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+ doubles your risk of suffering age-related macular degeneration and significantly increases your chances of developing cataracts.

4. Get fit. Aerobic exercise can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye.

5. Cover up. Exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Always wear sunglasses when the UV index rises above three, even on a cloudy day. Check your sunglasses filter AT LEAST 99 per cent of UVA and UVB light and look out for a CE UV 400 or BS EN 1836:2005 mark when choosing your sunglasses to be sure they provide adequate protection.

6. Be screen smart. On average we spend a staggering 35 hours a week staring at a computer screen so it’s no surprise that 90 per cent of us say we experience screen fatigue – tired or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and poor colour perception. Give your eyes a break by looking away from your screen every 20 minutes and focusing on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.