PHA Highlights Importance Of Ongoing Eye Health

The Public Health Agency has highlighted the importance of looking after your eyes at all stages of life and the steps you can take to protect your vision.

According to the PHA, one-in-five people will experience sight loss in their lifetime, but more than half of sight loss can be prevented.

Marking National Eye Health Week, the PHA has highlighted the ways you can keep your eyes in better shape such as regular eye tests, being physically active, eating healthily and stopping smoking.

Dr Jackie McCall, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: "A routine eye examination can often pick up the first signs of a sight loss condition even before there are any symptoms. Early detection and intervention could save sight, or keep a condition under control. As well as helping people to see better, a routine eye test can also detect a range of life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, among others."

Other key steps you can take to maintain good eye health include:

• Quit smoking – for outlined guidance and support visit www.stopsmokingni.info

• Protect your eyes in bright sunlight and/or glare.

• Eat healthily and exercise regularly – for help and advice visit www.choosetolivebetter.com

• Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes while doing DIY, gardening, sporting activities and/or in the workplace if required.

• Take regular and short breaks if working at a computer screen, phone or tablet.

Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services at the Strategic Planning and Performance Group, Department of Health, added: "We know that sight is the sense that we fear losing most, and that a high proportion of sight loss in Northern Ireland is preventable. A regular visit to your local optometrist can detect sight-threatening conditions early, which can help make treatment outcomes better. These sight tests should be every two years for most of us, or annually for older or younger groups, or those with certain medical conditions. In addition, the Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Scheme (PEARS) will see you promptly, without charge, if you develop a sudden change in vision, pain, or discomfort."

Dr McCall concluded: "We would encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to keep their eyes in good shape. If you notice a sudden change in vision, flashes or floaters contact your local optometrist as soon as possible."

For more information on how to look after your eyes, visit www.pha.site/LookAfterYourEyes

Eye examinations are free for many individuals. For information regarding eligibility for a free NHS eye test, please visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/eye-care

For information on the NI PEARS scheme, visit www.online.hscni.net/our-work/ophthalmic-services/eyes/

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