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COVID19 Eye Care Guide

Eye Health UK has published an essential guide to caring for your eyes during the coronavirus pandemic on the vision matters website.

The guide provides the public with advice about how, and when, to access primary eye care services during the pandemic as well as tips on keeping your eyes and vision healthy during lockdown.

A host of issues are covered inside the handy guide including: what to do if your contact lens prescription expires; the provision of post-operative care and protecting your eyes from DIY disasters.

The charity’s chairman, David Cartwright comments: “It’s vital that the public are clear about how to look after their eye health during these extraordinary times and know how the optical sector are here to help as they provide vital telemedical care and support the NHS frontline effort.” 

The charity is also promoting important public health messages and advice on social media channels using the hashtag #COVID19EyeCare throughout the pandemic.


Twitter: @myvisionmatters

Instagram: nationaleyehealthweek


Click here to read the COVID19 Eye Care Guide


Published: 6 April 2020

Coronavirus: Eye Care Service Update (25 March 2020)

Whilst routine eye tests have been suspended across the UK high-street optical practices are still providing essential eye care services.


Essential eye care services include:

-  Providing replacement eyewear for key workers, vulnerable and elderly patients.

- Telephone or video consultations for patients with acute symptoms* or those requiring post-operative care.


Visit your local optical practice website or call them for more information about how to access these services if you are in need.


If your own practice is unable to help, they may be able to inform you of a local alternative.


The Macular Society website has the latest guidance on visiting your local eye clinic for macular degeneration (AMD) appointments. Click here for more information


*eg; painful / red eye, contact lens discomfort, foreign object in eye or a sudden change in vision.



Published: 25 March 2020

Wearing and caring for your eyewear during coronavirus pandemic

The Centre for Ocular Research and Education (CORE) has issued advice on wearing and caring for your contact lenses and spectacles amidst Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.*

Advice released on 12 March 2020 is as follows:

Contact Lens Wear is Safe. Contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction for millions of people worldwide.

Proper Hand Washing is Essential. When using contact lenses or spectacles, careful and thorough hand washing with soap and water followed by hand drying with unused paper towels is paramount. For contact lens wearers, this should occur before every insertion and removal.

Disinfect Contact Lenses. Contact lens wearers should either dispose of their daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect their monthly and two-week lenses according to manufacturer and eye care professional instructions.

Disinfect Spectacles and Glasses. Some viruses such as COVID-19 can remain on hard surfaces for hours to days, which can be transferred to spectacles wearers’ fingers and faces.

Discontinue Lens Wear if Sick. Ceasing contact lens wear when sick is advised, consistent with guidance for other types of illness.

Spectacles are Not Proven to Offer Protection. There is no scientific evidence that wearing spectacles or glasses provide protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions.


For more general advice see our short guide to wearing and caring for your contact lenses here


For the latest Public Health advice on hand washing and staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response


* https://core.uwaterloo.ca/news/top-contact-lens-experts-dispel-misinformation-regarding-coronavirus-covid-19-protections-for-contact-lens-wearers/


Published 17 March 2020

Save the Date (Dates for NEHW 2020 Announced)

National Eye Health Week (NEHW) 2020 will take place 21 – 27 September.


Building on the success of the 2019 campaign – which enjoyed support from over 3,000 organisations including the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England – this year’s campaign will once again focus on raising awareness of the simple things we can all do to look after our eyes and help prevent avoidable sight loss.


David Cartwright, Chair of Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for running the Week, said: “We hope to encourage everyone with an interest in vision and eye health to come together this September to promote engaging eye health messages and create a public health campaign that has a positive and tangible impact on the nation’s eye health.”


National Eye Health Week has gained significant momentum over recent years and is now a firm fixture in the public health calendar.


Highlights from NEHW 2019 included the production of a comprehensive supporter resource pack; the publication of Vista magazine; a nationwide poster campaign; the launch of an online vision simulator giving people a glimpse of what it’s like to live with four common causes of sight loss; the publication of eye health supplements in the national press; a comprehensive media relations campaign (generating 218 Million opportunities to see positive eye health messages); a social conversation with a reach in excessive of 66 Million and The Big Blink – an initiative aimed at improving eye health in the workplace.


One in four UK adults say they remember seeing, hearing or reading something about eye health during the Week. Of these three quarters (74%) say they were encouraged to take better care of their eyes, doing things like booking an eye examination (37%) or quit smoking (7%).[1]


Sixty per cent of optical practices responding to the NEHW19 supporter evaluation survey reported an increase in sight tests in and around the Week.


David Cartwright continues: “National Eye Health Week achieves a great deal on limited resources and has built strong foundations on which to leverage the ‘prevention’ ‘agenda and significantly raise the profile of optics. To fulfil the potential of National Eye Health Week requires substantial investment, so watch this space for future funding appeals.”


To join the NEHW supporter mailing list or for information about sponsorship opportunities and other ways you can get involved in National Eye Health Week 2020 please email us.

[1]  Populus Omnibus Survey of 1,094 UK Adults between 02.Oct.19 and 03.Oct.19

Winter-proof your eyes

Cold winter winds and central heating can play havoc with your eyes leaving them feeling dry, gritty, and sore - especially at the end of the day when symptoms are often at their worst. Cranking up your central heating can also trigger conjunctival hyperaemia (blood shot eyes).

Beat dry eye this winter by reducing the setting on your central heating, protecting your eyes from the wind; avoiding car heaters, particularly at face level and sitting away from direct heat such as gas or electric fires.

Cutting back on your coffee consumption and using therapeutic drops can also help reduce symptoms of dry eye.

Respiratory infections such as common colds and flu can inflame your conjunctiva (the clear membrane that covers the whites of your eyes) leaving your eyes feeling sore and irritated.

Prevent cross infection from bacteria in coughs and colds by washing your hands thoroughly before touching your eyes.

Don't put away your sunglasses just yet! Sunglasses provide valuable protection for your eyes all year-round, not just in the hot summer months.

Cumulative damage caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can increase your risk of suffering sight-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Eye Health UK advises that you wear sunglasses whenever the UV Index rises above three. This can occur even on a cloudy day, so keep an eye on the Met Office's UV forecast.

Snowy conditions can also reflect more UV radiation into your eyes so sunglasses are particularly important after snow or when enjoying winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding.

Leafy greens provide vital nutrients (lutein and zeaxantin) to help keep your eyes healthy so now that salad days are over make sure you eat plenty good green winter veg like kale, chard and spinach.

Winter is also a great time to get your sight tested as poor light conditions can mean your eyes have to work harder, making them more susceptible to fatigue and eye strain.


Published : 5 December 2019

Road Safety Week 18 - 24 November 2019

Eyesight is a key factor in road safety, but one that is often ignored. Visual acuity, field of vision, night vision, contrast sensitivity and other visual functions can all compromise safe driving.

We estimate there are nine million drivers on the Britain’s roads with vision that falls below the legal standards of vision for driving [1]. More than 90% of information a driver uses is visual so ensuring your eyesight is up to scratch is crucial. Research [2] shows drivers with vision that falls below the legal standards struggle to stay in lane, read road signs or keep a consistent speed. Poor eyesight also hampers your ability to react to unexpected hazards.

Road crashes involving a driver with poor vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [3].

Having regular sight tests – once every two year’s unless advised otherwise by your optometrist – and wearing your prescription eyewear every time you get behind the wheel is essential to improve road safety and reduce the risk of injury to you and other road users.

Take a look at our Clear Vision, Safe Driving leaflet for info on how to keep your vision roadworthy.


[1] Based on roadside checks data collected by the charity in conjuntion with West Mercia Police

[2] Fit to Drive driving simulator assessment conducted at Brunel University

[3] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, overview available on the Road Safety Observatory

Firework Eye Safety Alert

Every year 10 people in the UK lose their sight and 300 people suffer serious eye injuries as a result of accidents caused by fireworks. And, its not just children larking about that are at risk – three quarters (73%) of serious ocular traumas are sustained by adults and most (45 per cent) occur at private parties (1,2).

Rockets take first place in the danger stakes accounting for more than a third (36%) of all serious eye injuries, but also flying high on the dangerous firework list is the innocent sparkler. Although sparklers are often thought to be one of the safest fireworks, they burn at temperatures up to 2000ºC – hot enough to melt gold.

Follow Eye Health UK’s SPARKLER code for a safe and injury free Bonfire Night:

Shield your eyes with protective eyewear when lighting fireworks

Plunge sparklers into a bucket of cold water as soon as they have burnt out

Attend organised displays wherever possible. (This year there are many online events planned so you can watch a display from the comfort of your own armchair. Check your local press for details)

Read the instructions on the fireworks with a torch and follow them carefully (ensure your fireworks comply with the British Safety Standard (BS EN 15947) or have a CE Mark.

Keep all fireworks in a closed metal box and only light one at a time

Leave fireworks that fail to go off – never return to a lit firework

Ensure everyone stands a safe distance away – AT LEAST 25 metres from Category 3 fireworks

Remove all debris and flammable objects (including plants and trees) from your firework display area

David Cartwright, Chairman of the charity Eye Health UK says: “Eye damage caused by fireworks is so often avoidable and can lead to permanently reduced vision or even blindness, so this year the charity is urging people to take extra care of their eyes and follow the SPARKLER safety code.”

If anyone in your party does suffer a firework eye injury:
• Seek medical attention immediately. Quick action can minimise long-term damage.
• Do not rub or rinse the injured eye, or apply any ointments to the eye area. If you do, it could increase any damage and make it more difficult for a specialist to provide treatment.


Vision and Eye Health Supplement published in The Guardian

Take a look at the Vision and Eye Health supplement published in today's Guardian newspaper for news and information about caring for your eyes.

Read it again here


All Rights Reserved


24 September 2019

Call for opticians to offer lifestyle prescriptions

Eye Health UK[1] is calling on opticians to include lifestyle advice on their optical prescriptions in a bid to cut the number of people in the UK living with avoidable sight loss.

The appeal, which coincides with the launch of National Eye Health Week (23 – 29 September), has already received backing from the UK’s biggest opticial group and independent practitioners.

David Cartwright Chairman of Eye Health UK, said:

“A million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to make everyday activities like driving a car impossible. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition and is linked to all four major causes of sight loss: macular degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of blindness, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts, yet people are unaware that there is an association.”

Reaching out to people with lifestyle advice that encourages them to make simple changes to their diet, smoking habits and activity levels will play a critical role in saving people’s sight in the future.”

Optometrists are perfectly placed to deliver general health advice and support the Government’s mission to ‘put prevention at the heart of the nation's health’[2]. Public trust in advice given by opticians is high. Eighty-eight per cent of UK Adults say they trust health advice from opticians  either a ‘great or ‘fair’ deal[3].

According to new research just 15 per cent of Brits think your exercise regime can affect eye health[4], despite evidence that being physically active can reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle[5] .

Whilst research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption[6], making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today[7].

Lifestyle advice on optical prescriptions and eye examination summaries would not only increase public awareness of the link between lifestyle habits and eye health but also signpost people towards the support they need to make lifestyle changes and improve their general well-being[8].

Commenting on why they are giving the initiative their backing:

Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers said: “Sight is the sense people fear losing the most, so whatever we can do to help our customers maintain the health of their eyes and see better for longer is always our priority.”

Tushar  Majithia from Lunettes Opticians which has practices in Sleaford, Grantham and Ruskington said: “We usually provide eye health advice as part of the eye examination but patients often don’t remember all the information given to them. It is important to reinforce the message by including this information on the optical prescription, as well as providing information leaflets.”


The charity hopes that the lifestyle prescription initiative can be rolled out in optical practices over the next 12 months.


[1] Eye Health UK is a register charity [registered charity number 1086146]
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevention-is-better-than-cure-our-vision-to-help-you-live-well-for-longer
[3] https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/sites/default/files/gphc_public_perceptions_report_-_final.pdf
[4] Eye Health study conducted by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK adults, August 2019
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/
[6] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537
[7] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data 
[8] Illustration of what advice might look like on a prescription “Smoking causes sight loss. It significantly increases your risk of common eye diseases and impairs colour vision. For help to quit visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.”


Published: 23 September

Daily Themes for NEHW19 Announced

Organisers have announced the daily themes for this year's National Eye Health Week.

Monday 23 September Importance of regular eye examinations

Tuesday  24th September Nutrition and the eye

Wednesday 25th September Sight after Sixty with a focus on the role good vision plays in falls prevention

Thursday 26th September Diabetic Retinopathy

Fr-eye-day 27th September The Big Blink (screen fatigue) plus charity fundraising

Saturday 28th September Kids’ eye care (including myopia control)

Sunday 29th September Smoking and sight loss


Social media graphics will be posted in the electronic resource centre every day to help supporters share important eye health messages relating to the daily themes.


Published: 8 September 2019