The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has pledged his support for National Eye Health Week, which takes place between 16 and 22 September.
Mr. Black said that good eye health is crucial to people's wellbeing. "Having regular eye tests mean that we can remain active longer, but equally can also assist in the early diagnosis of other illnesses including diabetes, MS, malignant eye tumours and high blood pressure.
"As somebody who relies on glasses I very much value the input of professional opticians, who ensure that I can continue to drive legally and am able to operate normally despite being short-sighted. Raising awareness through National Eye Health Week is one way of driving that message home."
National Eye Health Week brings organisations and health professionals from across the UK together to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular sight tests.
Ceri Jackson, Chair of the National Eye Health Week steering group in Wales, said: "Fifty per cent of sight loss is avoidable, and the single most important thing that people can do to protect their sight is to go for a test every two years. Many people think that a sight test is just about checking whether your vision needs correcting with glasses or contact lenses, but a sight test is also a vital check of the health of the eyes and includes the detection of eye conditions. Many of these have no early symptoms, but when they are detected early then the right type of treatment could save your sight.
"National Eye Health Week is an opportunity for people to come together and raise awareness of the need to be proactive about our eye health in the same way as we would in relation to other health conditions. I'm delighted that Peter Black has pledged his support and hope that as many people as possible can join us during the week in doing their bit to stop people losing their sight unnecessarily."
In addition to sight tests, RNIB recommends four actions to keep your eyes healthy:
1) Stop smoking. Smoking can double your risk of developing some eye conditions. In fact, the link is as strong as the link between smoking and lungcancer. Speak to your GP about stopping smoking.
2) Eat healthily and watch your weight. Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help protect against eye disease. Oranges, kiwis, nuts, seeds and oily fish may also help. Obesity can increase the risk of diabetes, which in turn could lead to sight loss.
3) Keep your eyes covered in the sun. UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can harm your eyes and may increase the risk of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contacts lenses with a built in UV filter will protect your eyes. Only buy sunglasses that have a CE mark or carry British Standard BSEN 1863:1997.
4) Safety first. DIY causes thousands of eye related injuries each year. Always wear safety goggles (European Standard BS EN 166) to protect your eyes from flying debris and fine particles. Sports (especially racquet-based sports) also cause lots of eye related injuries each year. Investing in a good pair of protective sports goggles will help prevent serious damage to your eyes.
- National Eye Health Week activities are delivered in partnership by a wide range of organisations with an interest in eye health. In Wales, the steering group is chaired by Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru. For more information about National Eye Health Week, please visit http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/.
- There are currently nearly 100,000 people in Wales who are living with sight loss and over the next 25 years the number of people with sight loss is expected to double.
- Over 50 per cent of sight loss can be avoided by people wearing correctly prescribed glasses or having the right treatment at the right time.