Our eyesight is arguably our most important sense, but to ensure our vision is working at its best, we need to stay on top of our eye health. Here are some insights on how to protect and maintain your vision.

How often should you go for an eye test?

Having regular eye tests is key to healthy vision. Routine examinations will not only highlight if you need glasses or contact lenses, or if your existing prescription needs altering, but they also allow the optician to diagnose other potential eye conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma.1

The NHS recommends getting your eyes tested once every two years, however you may need to have tests more regularly if advised by your optician.2

What can affect your eyes?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays created by the sun can cause long-lasting damage to your vision, particularly when they are reflecting off surfaces such as glass, water or snow.3

UV rays can cause damage such as cataracts and the early onset of age-related macular degeneration, as well as sunburn on the cornea. You can protect your eyes by wearing UV-protection sunglasses when in direct sunlight or try to remain in the shade during the sunniest parts of the day.

Leaving eye make-up on for too long can also increase the risk of eye issues, as it increases the chances of bacteria and oily build up, which can cause inflammation of the eyes.4

It’s also believed that looking at a computer screen for long periods of time can impact your eye health. Rather than cause permanent damage to your eye health, research suggests that this can create irritations such as eye strain and dry eyes.5

Are eyesight issues genetic?

It’s well known that hair colour and facial features can be inherited from our parents, however, it’s a lesser known fact that we can also inherit sight-related conditions.

Studies suggest that if you have parents who are both short-sighted, there’s a one in three chance you’ll also develop short-sightedness.6 If neither parent is short-sighted, those chances lengthen to just one in 40.6

Glaucoma – the condition caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye and can potentially lead to blindness – is also thought to be inherited. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you’re nine times more likely to develop it.7 Primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma, is hereditary.8

Glasses vs contact lenses vs alternatives

If you require a prescription for your eyesight, there are different ways to help maintain healthy vision.

Opting for glasses is perhaps the most common approach to improving your eyesight. Wearing glasses removes the need to touch your eye (something you need to do if you wear contact lenses, which can cause irritation and infection).9 Glasses can also help protect your eyes from dust or dirt.

If you opt to use contact lenses, the lens will curve to your eye which will give you a wider field of view. Lenses also have less obstruction to your view, which you may get with the frames of some glasses.10

Outside of lenses or glasses, some people with poor vision undergo laser eye surgery to improve their eyesight. A short procedure, the surgery is used to treat far, long and short-sightedness, and patients can see improvements in their vision within 24 hours.11

Maintaining healthy eyesight with a health care cash plan

With the Good All Round cash plan from Sovereign Health Care, you can claim money back towards your optical health costs, including glasses, contact lenses, prescription sunglasses and eye tests, from as little as £2.22 per week. For more information, check out sovereignhealthcare.co.uk/good-all-round.

1 NHS 2 NHS 3 London Vision Clinic 4 The Independent 5  News-Medical 6 Optimax

7 Optimax  8 Glaucoma 9 All About Vision 10 All About Vision 11 Laser Eye Surgery Hub

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