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Look out for problems during Eye Health Week

Most people need to get their eyes tested every two years. These tests are vital to check on the health of the eye in general, not just if you need glasses or contact lenses. There are many eye problems, such as glaucoma, that can become very serious if not treated early on and can lead to a loss of vision. A lot of damage to the eye can be easily prevented, but not reversed, so it’s important to take sight tests seriously.

Doctors from NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are suggesting that local residents also check whether they are eligible for a free test. There is a lot of confusion around who needs a sight test and when, but the CCGs want to make sure everybody is clear about why and when sight tests are needed.

Some people who are particularly at risk of developing eye problems are entitled to free tests, including those:

• aged over 60 years old
• aged under 16
• aged under 19 and still in full time education
• diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma

People are also entitled to a free sight test if they receive certain types of financial assistance, such as universal credit or income support, or are named on a HC2 NHS certificate for help with health costs (and in some cases HC3 certificates).

Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “Eye Health Week is a really great opportunity to double check when the last time you had a sight test was. Many people don’t think they need one because their vision seems fine, but these tests are about more than just reading letters on a chart, they do a complete check on eye health.

“Not taking these tests seriously can lead to problems, which can be treated very effectively if caught early on. The NHS makes sure that eye tests are provided free for those people who need them most, but it is important that everyone ensures they have regular eye tests.

Dr Mark Dziobon, Clinical Director of Performance at NHS East Lancashire CCG, added: “There are also a number of steps you can take to make sure that you keep your eyes in good condition, including stopping smoking, eating well and wearing sunglasses with a proper UV protection in bright sunlight.

“When it comes to staying healthy the eye is like any other part of the body. It will benefit from eating a balanced diet, full of nutrients like Vitamin B, as well as exercising regularly, stopping smoking and watching your weight.

“Additionally, it is important to stay screen smart. This means taking care to avoid straining your eyes by using a screen for too long. A simple way to do this is the 20-20-20 rule – look 20 feet in front of you every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. This helps limit eye strain, which can result in tired eyes, blurred vision and headaches.”

For more information on Eye Health Week, visit http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/