Last week was National Eye Health week (18-24 September 2023), and as part of our focus on wellbeing at work I attended an Essex Working Well seminar on eye health, delivered by local Essex based Charity Support 4 Sight https://www.support4sight.org.uk/. Not only were the figures they shared eye opening (apologies for the pun) but the fact that it is estimated that over half of sight loss could be avoided by simply looking after ourselves makes the figures hard hitting. It’s difficult to appreciate but eating well, exercising, wearing eye protection from the sun and not smoking all support eye health. So just by promoting awareness and general wellbeing in the workplace employers can play a positive role in supporting eye health.
- 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss, that is severe enough to impact on their daily lives.
- It is predicted that by 2050, the numbers of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million.
- 1 in 5 people aged 75 and over are living with sight loss.
- Everyday 250 people in the UK start to lose their sight. This is equivalent to one person every six minutes.
Regular eyesight tests can help early diagnosis of conditions such as glaucoma, as well as help detect diabetes and high blood pressure. Supporting staff to attend eye tests by simply making it easier for them to take time to attend appointments or covering the costs of regular check-ups, could have a real impact on their eye health and their general health.
Organisations can also look to support simple policies in the workplace such as guidelines on screen time or how to minimize the effects of screen fatigue. As well as promoting an understanding of sight loss and the use of assistive technology.
Support 4 Sight assist people coming to terms with losing their sight and to cope long term with the social, emotional and practical issues that they face living with sight loss. The charity also provides advice and guidance on job seeking to blind or partially sighted people; as well as advice to individuals and employers on assistive technology and promoting an understanding of sight loss in the workplace.
Five tips for good eye health
- Get a regular sight test (at least every 2 years): A sight test can detect early signs of glaucoma, as well as providing early identification of other health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke: it increases risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Get moving: exercise can reduce the risk of sight loss from narrowing or hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Wear eye protection in bright sunlight. Sunglasses should have the CE mark.
- Eat well: especially green veg, oily fish, eggs, bright coloured food eg. carrots, oranges, corn.