This week, 21-27 September 2015, sees the sixth annual National Eye Health Week. There will be nationwide promotion of eye health by a broad range of healthcare professionals and eye care charities. This is aimed at improving public understanding of how to best look after their eyes and also their sight.
Here at Spire Roding Hospital we feel it is important to improve public awareness of dietary advice for optimum eye health and also awareness of how to access care of common eye, tear film and eyelid conditions.
Many of us already have regular sight tests and check ups with a high street optometrist. This is important both to maintain our best vision with appropriate glasses and contact lenses and also as part of screening for common eye conditions.
There are though many dietary and lifestyle choices that can help maintain healthy eyes and reduce the risk of developing uncomfortable or sight-threatening eye diseases.
Our diet has been shown to be important for our eyes, particularly with regard to preventing retinal damage from age related macular degeneration. It can help to maintain stable and low blood sugar levels for patients with diabetes and improving ocular comfort for patients with dry eye and blepharitis.
There are two key elements of diet in ocular health. For retinal health it is important to maintain a well balanced diet with plenty of yellow, orange and green vegetables. This reduces the risk of developing age related macular degeneration, a major cause of sight loss in the UK.
For dry eye symptoms and blepharitis, there is now good evidence that taking regular Omega 3 in the diet can reduce symptoms and improve ocular comfort.
Omega 3 is found in oily fish, particularly salmon and also nuts. If these symptoms persist consultation with a consultant ophthalmologist can help to guide further management and identify which patients can benefit from specific regular dietary supplements.
In addition to maintaining a well balanced diet it is advisable to avoid both smoking and excess sun damage. Smoking is a risk factor for both macular degeneration and development of cataracts. It also contributes very significantly to aging signs in the eyelids and the skin of the upper face.
Excess sun damage contributes to aging signs of the eyelids and some diseases of the ocular surface such as pterygium. Sun damage is also a risk factor for development of some skin cancers and the skin around the eyes is one of the most common areas to be affected by this process.
Most new spots, marks and blemishes around the eye are not skin cancers but particularly if there is a bleeding spot which has not healed after three months, a clinic appointment with an oculoplastic surgeon can help to exclude skin cancer.