When it comes to our eye health, it’s a part of the body that is often neglected and there are currently 1.8 million people in the UK living with sight loss.

We’ve come up with a simple guide that you can follow to help ensure you keep an eye on this part of your body!

Examine your family history

In order to understand the long-term health of your eyes, it’s vital that you are aware of any hereditary conditions. If you know that a certain ailment runs in the family, you can take steps early on to monitor and try and manage the problem so it hopefully won’t deteriorate rapidly in the future. For example, the risk of glaucoma is higher in those over the age of forty, people with a family history of the condition and those of African-Caribbean origin. However, earlier this year, the International Glaucoma Association revealed that 72% of people in this ‘at risk’ group are unaware of this threat and 31% of people don’t realise there is a family link.

Look after your general health

By keeping the rest of your body healthy, your eyes will reap the rewards. Stop smoking and cut down on your alcohol intake as the NHS says this could lead to age-related macular degeneration, a painful eye condition leading to the gradual loss of vision. Research shows that exercise may reduce the risk of sight loss that can occur as a result of high blood pressure, diabetes and the narrowing of the arteries. If the gym isn’t for you, read our guide to alternative exercises that will help to keep you fit whilst having fun!

Protect your eyes

It might sound obvious, but don’t underestimate the benefits of wearing good quality sunglasses in sunny weather as they can help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. You should look for sunglasses that carry the CE mark and the British Standard BS EN 1836:2005 which ensures they offer protection from ultraviolet light.

Regular sight tests

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) recently released the results of a study which worryingly revealed that 18% of over 45’s haven’t had an eye test in the last five years, or have never had one before. However, optometrists recommend that people should have an eye test at least every two years, with people over the age of 40 needing to be tested more regularly than that. An eye test doesn’t just tell you whether or not you need glasses, it can also detect signs of certain eye conditions such as glaucoma, which can be treated if spotted early enough. Organisers of National Eye Health Week say that other health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can sometimes be detected through eye tests.

Sovereign Health Care recognises how important eye health is to your overall wellbeing. With this in mind, it offers health care cash plans that give you money back towards a range of different health costs, including eye tests, glasses and contact lenses.

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