There is an image of an eye with clock numbers arranged around it like a clock face. Under the image are the words "Every 6 minutes, someone in the UK starts to lose their sight."

Sight loss is not inevitable; there are simple steps you can take to look after your eye health. Here are some valuable tips from the experts at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

1. Get regular eye tests

It is recommended that adults have an eye test every two years. For younger children, aged 3-4, an eye test should be done at least once a year until they reach the age of 16. Children respond well to treatment if conditions are detected early on.

Eye tests will check your vision but can also spot any underlying signs of more serious eye conditions or health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Free eye tests are available to those under the age of 16 and adults who qualify. You can check if you are eligible for a free eye test via the NHS website before you visit your local opticians.

2. Don’t shower with contacts in

Avoid wearing contact lenses in the shower or swimming pool. 

Water can contain microbes that can adhere to your lenses and find their way into your eyes, increasing the risk of contracting an eye infection.

Contact lens wearers are more likely to develop keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea if their lenses come into contact with water.

3. Stay healthy

Maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and drinking plenty of water is essential for our health and well-being. These factors can also affect our eyes. 

A balanced diet with foods rich in the following vitamins and minerals will also keep your eyes healthy:

  • Omega-3 fats from oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and trout
  • Lutein, which is found in dark green, leafy vegetables, including spinach and kale
  • Vitamins A, and E, so eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

Reducing intraocular pressure through aerobic exercise like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming can help control glaucoma, ocular hypertension, and diabetic retinopathy. The Department of Health recommends 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week for health benefits.

Drinking adequate water is also essential for eye health. Dehydration can cause dry, irritated eyes. Aim for 1.2 litres daily or more when you’re active or in hot weather.

4. Take screen breaks

Many of us spend significant time looking at a screen or digital device. Blinking less during screen use can cause eye strain and dry eyes. Take breaks and set up your display correctly.

Follow the 20/20/20 rule - a simple and effective method to rest your eyes and prevent digital eye strain. Look at something 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

5. Protect your eyes from the sun

Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause damage to your eyes, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and skin cancer. Here are some ways to shield your eyes from the sun:

  • Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses are the easiest and most effective way to protect your eyes from UV rays. Always look for the UV 400 mark when purchasing. Look for the CE mark, which indicates the sunglasses meet European standards.
  • Wear a hat: A wide-brimmed hat can provide extra protection for your eyes and face by blocking UV rays from above or around your glasses.
  • Avoid peak sun hours: Try to keep out of the sun between 11am-3pm when UV rays are most harmful.

6. Quit smoking

Smoking can cause or worsen existing eye conditions, such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Quitting can reduce your risk of developing certain eye conditions, such as:

  • Dry eye syndrome: Smoking irritates eyes and doubles the risk of dry eye syndrome. Symptoms include burning, scratchy, sandy, red eyes. Avoid smoking if prone to dry eyes.
  • Cataracts: Smoking increases cataract risk by altering eye lens cells. Cataracts cause blurry, dull vision.
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Smokers are four times more likely to get AMD which causes central vision loss. Recent AMD treatments are less effective in smokers.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Smoking narrows eye blood vessels, reducing blood supply. It can lead to diabetic retinopathy and blindness. It also raises blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen and other nutrients to the retina, causing them to leak fluid or bleed.

7. Prioritise eye protection

DIY accidents cause thousands of eye injuries each year. Always wear proper safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris. 

Protective eyewear, like goggles, should be worn when setting off fireworks to prevent serious eye injuries from sparks and explosions.

Protective sports goggles can also prevent eye damage during athletic activities.

Safety glasses can also save your eyes from the harmful effects of high-intensity lights, such as those used for welding torches, lasers, and more.

8. Know your eye drops

If you use prescription eye drops, be sure to follow instructions carefully. 

Ensure you hold the bottle properly and aim carefully when instilling drops, as the process can be tricky.

Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling eye drops. This prevents eye infections.

Watch our short video on how best to apply your drops:

Store eye drops correctly and discard them if they’ve expired. Never share eye drops between people.

Ask for help if you need it to prevent complications.

We believe your sight matters. You can help protect it with these tips from our specialists at Moorfields.