Recent research, highlighted in the national press, has found that almost half of GPs say that they feel less confident dealing with eye conditions than with any other part of the body. Nearly every GP (98%) surveyed agreed that optometrists are better qualified to diagnose eye conditions. However a quarter of UK patients still turn to their doctor rather than an optometrist if they have an eye problem.
The study also found that, although four out of five adults worry about protecting their sight, nearly half (44%) of them did not have regular eye checks. Major causes of increasing eye problems have been identified as diet, smoking, UV rays and increasing use of technology.
So, as a guide, here are some tips to help protect your eyes and preserve your vision.
- Have regular eye examinations – the average interval between tests is two years but this may be less for children, people in risk groups (those whose relations have eye problems) and as we get older. If you haven’t had your eyes examined since 2013 book an appointment soon!
- Protect your eyes from UV rays – wear sunglasses outdoors; even on bright but not sunny days the eyes absorb these rays that have been proved to increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration in later life.
- If you smoke, stop – smoking has been strongly linked with many serious eye conditions.
- Take regular breaks when using computers and portable digital devices (your phone, tablet or reader) – prolonged use can lead to dry, itchy and sore eyes and has been shown to disturb sleep patterns if performed before bedtime.
- Drink water and eat more oily fish – dehydration can lead to dry, sore eyes also, see our January blog for more details of the effect of diet on our eyes and vision.