Easy on the Eye
It's National Eye Health Week (24-30 September) and if you haven't had your eyes tested recently, Autumn's the perfect time to do it. Two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, and half this sight loss is avoidable. A report this year from the British Journal of Ophthalmology revealed eyelid cancer is on the up. Let’s get those peepers tip top in time for party season.
Not just to check your vision and see if you need glasses, sight tests are an important MOT for your eyes, detecting serious eye conditions, some of which scarily show no symptoms.
A sight test can also detect other health conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. To keep your eyes healthy in between seeing your optician, here's some remedies to everyday eye ailments...
blink of an eye
Sore, dry and irritated eyes could be a touch of Screen Dry Eye. If you use a screen for long periods minimise the symptoms of Screen Dry Eye by practising the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds, to give your eyes a break. Warm compresses are soothing and don’t forget to blink!
dry your eyes
Constantly watering eyes or super dry eyes that worsen throughout the day could spell Dry Eye. Environment can be a cause from changes in temperature or humidity to brightness. Heating, air conditioning, computer work and hours spent on social media can all cause Dry Eye as they disrupt the eye’s lipid layer.
Sunlight can also have a drying effect on the eyes and my own personal nemesis Autumnal winds! Cover up with sunglasses, which along with UV protection, will prevent gales and dust hitting your eyes. Help yourself by upping your Omega 3 fatty acids while artificial tears and eye ointments can soothe and lubricate the eye.
Lack of sleep, swimming, pollution and time spent in dark smoky bars bring about bloodshot eyes.
Artificial tears, eye ointments or refreshing eye drops can help to soothe the eye - stay away from brightening drops as they use vasoconstrictors to narrow the blood vessels in the eye and this won't help.
Gritty and Sticky
Eyes can mean conjunctivitis – an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin, transparent layer that lines the inner eyelid). Your immune system can usually handle this however, over-the-counter remedies can speed up recovery. Warm compresses are your friends.
Blepha what Now
Irritated red eyelids, itching, burning, sticky eyelids or a sensitivity to light, may be a sign of Blepharitis. People who suffer from dry skin conditions seem prone. Good eye care is essential to prevent recurrence. To ease, gently cleanse the eye. In severe cases, an antibiotic ointment or eye drops may save the day.
Itchy, swollen and watery eyes - you could have an allergy or hay fever. Start by reducing exposure to the triggers. If you’re allergic to pollen - keep house and car windows closed, wear wrap-around sunglasses and avoid cutting grass.
Tea bags (cooled in the fridge) used as a cold compress help reduce swelling and bring relief. Help yourself by popping in the shower to remove any pollen. Antihistamines are effective at treating allergy symptoms, especially if taken early.
If in doubt make an appointment with your optician.
An Apple a day
Healthy eyes need a good lifestyle - poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse can lead to optic atrophy which can cause problems with vision and damage to optic nerve cells.
A balanced diet is key. Plenty of leafy green veg, Omega 3 and zinc are your eye health go-to’s.
Then there’s the sun protection and that’s where we come in. Don’t be fooled by an overcast sky, Autumn and Winter UV radiation can make eyes more prone to degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, periocular skin cancer and macular degeneration.