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Winter eye care advice

As temperatures plummet here are some top tips on keeping your eyes bright and healthy through the winter months.

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.

The charity, 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 : 4 December 2017

Say #EyeQuit for #Stoptober

Did you know the link between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer? To encourage people to say #EyeQuit for #Stoptober we're highlighting twenty ways smoking can affect your vision and eye health.


#1 Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to vision loss

#2 Cigarettes contain toxins that enter your eyes & increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times

#3 Tobacco chemicals damage blood vessels inside your eyes

#4 Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears

#5 Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina

#6 Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula

#7 Smoking is a key risk factor for #AMD, the UK’s leading cause of blindness

#8 Research published in @bmj suggests 1 in 5 cases of #AMD are caused by tobacco consumption

#9 On average smokers develop #AMD 5 years earlier than non-smokers

#10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of cataracts

#11 The risk of nuclear cataracts is 3 times greater in smokers

#12 Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic retinopathy

#13 Smoking increases your risk of dry eye syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in over 65s

#14 Smoking is associated with the development of thyroid eye disease

#15 Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency

#16 Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue

#17 Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis than non-smokers.

#18 Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers 

#19 Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of your child having a squint 

#20 Smoking around loved ones increases their risk of suffering sight loss


Get your free Personal Quit Plan at nhs.uk/smokefree to help you stop smoking for good and say #EyeQuit for good.


Published : 24 September 2017

Royal Mail & Eye Health UK join forces to promote good eye health

postmark image

Royal Mail and Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for National Eye Health Week, are joining forces to promote the importance of good eye health to millions of households across the UK, with a postmark.

The special National Eye Health Week postmark will appear on all stamped mail delivered by Royal Mail between 21 – 23 September 2017.

It’s hoped the postmark will not only be seen by millions, but also encourage people to think about their eyes and how much they rely on good vision to do everyday things like reading their mail!

Commenting on the collaboration David Cartwright, Chairman of Eye Health UK said: “One million people in the UK suffer with avoidable sight loss that makes doing things like reading difficult, or even, impossible. We hope that when this message drops through people’s letter boxes and raises awareness of the Week it will prompt them to take action to ensure their eyes and vision stay healthy.” 

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are really pleased to be joining the campaign to encourage more people to consider the health of their eyes. We hope that this postmark will help spread the message.”  

The last posting date for National Eye Health Week postmarked mail will be 22 September 2017.


Published : 20 September 2017

Channel 4 & RNIB present advertising first for National Eye Health Week

Channel 4 will mark National Eye Health Week this evening when it presents a very special ad break, giving viewers the chance to watch TV through the eyes of somebody living with sight loss.

This unique campaign was produced with the support of RNIB and Eye Health UK (organisers of National Eye Health Week) alongside five advertisers and aims to raise awareness of the importance of looking after your eyes.

The five advertisements will be broadcast during Channel 4’s The Undateables at 9.15pm and 9.30pm. Each ad uses different filters that mimic five common eye conditions in the UK – macular degeneration, cataracts, eye conditions caused by diabetes, hemianopia and glaucoma.


Published : 18 September



Eye Health UK and NHS launch video animation for National Eye Health Week

Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for running National Eye Health Week, has teamed up with the NHS and West Midlands Local Eye Health Network to produce a video animation to help people look after their eyes.

The video highlights how your lifestyle can affect your eye health and why regular sight tests are important for us all.


For more information and to download the animation click here


Published : 18 September

Daily lives of one million Brits blighted by avoidable sight loss

Eye health experts today marked National Eye Health Week (18 – 24 September) with a stark warning that a million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives – leaving them unable to do things such as drive. And worryingly, this number is forecast to rise by a third by 2030, if we don’t take action now.[1]


David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week explains: “Eyesight declines as part of the natural aging process and some cases of sight loss are still sadly unavoidable but for many simply going for regular eyes tests and adopting a healthier lifestyle could prevent sight loss having a significant impact on our lives and help people to live well for longer.”


Your lifestyle can impact your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition.[2] Being physically active has been shown to reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle;[3] whilst ditching a diet high in meat – more than 3.5oz daily (the equivalent of two small sausages) – could help cut your risk of cataract.[4]


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.[5] Making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today.[6]


There is also growing evidence to suggest that what we eat and drink can play a role in triggering the onset and progression of AMD. One research study has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week could reduce your risk of developing AMD by as much as 40 per cent,[7] whilst, heavy drinking (three or more standard drinks per day) has been associated with the development of early AMD.[8]


Poor uptake of regular eye tests, once every two years unless advised otherwise by your optometrist, is also a big risk factor for unnecessary sight loss as the early detection and treatment of common eye conditions like glaucoma is essential to avoid irreversible sight loss.


Almost 14 million (13.8) of us fail to have regular eye tests[9] yet your optometrist can spot signs of glaucoma years before you may notice a change in your vision. In fact, there are an estimated 300,000 people living in the UK with undiagnosed glaucoma because they have not had a recent eye test.[10]


David Cartwright concludes: “Over the next seven days National Eye Health Week will seek to inspire people to make small lifestyle changes that could make a big difference to their future eye health.”


National Eye Health Week’s six simple sight savers


  1. Quit smoking. Smokers have a significantly greater risk of sight loss than non-smokers. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye. This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including AMD; nuclear cataracts; thyroid eye disease; dry eye and impaired colour vision.


  1. Eat right for good sight. Most of us have no idea that what we eat can affect how well we see, however, eye-friendly nutrients found in many fruit and vegetables and fatty acids derived from fish, nuts and oils can all help protect your sight. Vitamins B and E can help protect against cataracts whilst Omega-3 fish oils help maintain healthy blood vessels inside the eye.


  1. Watch your weight. More than half of all British adults are overweight however maintaining a healthy weight helps preserve macula pigment density, which in turn, helps protect the retina against the breakdown of cells and the onset of AMD. Obesity also puts you at increased risk of diabetic retinopathy and damage to blood vessels in the eye caused by excess body weight has been linked to glaucoma.


  1. Get fit. Aerobic exercise can help increase oxygen supplies to the optic nerve and lower any pressure that builds up in the eye. Reducing intraocular pressure can help control conditions such as glaucoma.


  1. Cover up. Exposure to UV light can increases your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract. In fact, frequent use of sunglasses has been associated with a 40 per cent decrease in the risk of posterior sub-capsular cataract.[11] Always wear sunglasses when the UV index rises above three and check your sunglasses filter AT LEAST 99 per cent of UVA and UVB light. Look out for a CE or British Standard or UV 400 mark when choosing your sunglasses as this indicates they provide adequate UV protection.


  1. Be screen smart. On average, we spend more than eight hours a day[12] staring at a screen so it’s no surprise that 90 per cent of us say we experience screen fatigue – tired or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches and poor colour perception. Avoid eye strain by using the 20-20-20 rule, especially if you’re using a computer for long periods of time. Look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.


And, don’t forget to book an eye test during National Eye Health Week if you haven’t had one in the last two years.


[1] State of the Nation’s Eyes Report 2017 [http://www.rnib.org.uk/state-nation-2017]

[2] Joint Associations of Diet, Lifestyle, and Genes with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Kristin J. Meyers et al. Ophthalmology Journal, Sept 2015

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/

[4] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/03/23/ajcn.110.004028

[5] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537

[6] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data

[7] Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-related Maculopathy, Brian Chua et al. Journal of Food Science

[8] Chong EW, Kreis AJ, Wong TY et al. Alcohol consumption and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Ophthalmol 2008;145:4 707-715.  

[9] National Eye Health Week Consumer Study conducted by Atomik Research, in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations,on a representative sample of 2,002 UK respondents aged 18+ between 24 – 31 August 2016

[10] International Glaucoma Association (IGA) estimate for Cases of undiagnosed glaucoma in the UK

[11] Delcourt C et al. Light exposure and the risk of corticol, nuclear and posterior subcapsular cataracts: the Pathologies OculairesLiees a l’Age (POLA) study. Arch Ophthalmol, 2000: 118:385-92

[12] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/26826/cmr_uk_2016.pdf


Published : 18 September 2017

NEHW eye health supplement published in the Sunday Telegraph

Cover image NEHW eye health supplement published in Sunday Telegraph 17 Sept 17

The eye health supplement published in The Sunday Telegraph today (17 September) explains why everyone should have regular eye tests and highlights some of the simple things we can all do to keep our eyes and vision healthy. Read it again here


All Rights Reserved


Published : 17 September 2017


NHS and Eye Health UK launch Eye Health Video Animation

Video animation screen grab

Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for running National Eye Health Week, has teamed up with the NHS and West Midlands Local Eye Health Network to produce a video animation to help people look after their eyes.

The video highlights how your lifestyle can affect your eye health and why regular sight tests are important for us all.

For more information and to download the video animation click here


Published : 14 September 2017


Tips on viewing the partial solar eclipse 21 August 2017

Eye Health UK the charity behind, the National Eye Health Week campaign, is warning about the dangers of looking directly at the sun during the partial solar eclipse on 21 August.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible in Britain just before sunset on Monday when the moon covers 10 per cent of the sun’s diameter and two per cent of its area.

The phenomenon will continue for around 40 minutes and by visible across areas of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from around 7.35pm. Visit http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/uk for accurate eclipse viewing times across the UK.

Even though the weather forecast is for cloudy skies people must ensure they take proper precautions when viewing the phenomenon.

Looking directly at the sun, even for a moment[1], can lead to irreversible damage to the eye, solar retinopathy – a photochemical reaction that damages and destroys the light receptor cells that enable us to see. The symptoms of solar retinopathy, which may not become apparent for hours or even days after exposure to the Sun, include a black spot appearing in the centre of your vision, light sensitivity and reduced visual acuity. There is no specific cure for the condition, which in severe cases can lead to permanent sight loss.

David Cartwright, Chairman of the Charity Eye Health UK, explains: “Anyone looking directly at the sun during the eclipse risks causing permanent damage to their eyesight so we are urging people to enjoy this rare cosmic event by viewing it indirectly. Children are particularly susceptible to damage because the lens of a child’s eye allows 70 per cent more light to reach the retina than in an adult[2].”

The fact that the sun or the sky may seem ‘dull’ during the eclipse does not mean it is safe to look at with the naked eye, sunglasses, smoked glass or optical instruments such as binoculars, telescopes or cameras.

The only completely safe way to view the eclipse is indirectly. You can do this using a simple homemade pinhole card.

Just take a piece of stiff card and pierce it with a pin. Stand with your back to the sun, and hold the card up. Then, carefully adjust the angle of the card until an image of the Sun is projected. You can project the image onto the ground, a wall or a second piece of card.

Alternatively, you could use an ordinary kitchen colander to project an image of the sun. This is great fun for kids as you can project multiple images at the same time!

It is possible to purchase special eclipse viewing solar filters, although it is vital to ensure that any filter you use is specifically made for solar observation, carries a CE Mark and that it is not scratched or damaged. Make sure you hold the special filter firmly over both eyes BEFORE looking up at the Sun, and don’t remove it until AFTER looking away. The sun should look quite dim and the sky should be completely black - if this is not the case then DO NOT USE THE FILTER.

If you are in any doubt about eye safety you can watch the eclipse on one of the many live webcasts being broadcast from countries along the path of the eclipse.


[1] British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit. In 39% of patients presenting to hospital ophthalmologists after the 1999 eclipse, the time spent looking at the eclipse was reported to be less than 60 seconds

[2] The Vision Centre, Los Angles Children’s Hospital



Published : 21 August 2017

One Hundred Days

The countdown is on! It’s just one hundred days until the start of this year’s National Eye Health Week (18 – 24 September).


There are many ways that you can get involved to help spread the word about the importance of regular sight tests and inspire people to make lifestyle choices that benefit their eye health.


More details about the National Eye Health Week 2017 campaign will be announced over the coming weeks but in the meantime, here’s a short check list of things you can do to prepare for the UK’s biggest celebration of vision and good eye health.


1) Help get eye health trending on Twitter by joining our thunderclap. Sign up with your Twitter and Facebook accounts at http://thndr.me/0hXCXW


2) Show your support by tying a National Eye Health Week twibbon to your Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels. For information visit https://twibbon.com/support/national-eye-health-week


3) Register for your FREE supporter resource pack by sending your name, address and email details to info@visionmatters.org.uk


4) Set a date, plan your event or promotional activity and register it on the official NEHW calendar here http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/secure/submit-an-event


Download a copy of our Events Handbook if you need some inspiration when planning how to mark this year’s campaign.


5) Post announcements about your plans on your website and social media channels. Use the hashtags #EyeWeek and #VisionMatters.


Thanks for your support. Together we can make a real difference to nation’s eye health.


Published : 10 June 2017