Now that January is over, it’s safe to say that 2016 is officially underway. With February comes the inevitable slippage of New Year’s resolutions: Dry January has been seen off with a pint (or four) and instead of reaching for the gym kit, we’re stretching for the Valentine’s chocolate box. However, it’s not too late to hop back on the health-wagon and now there’s another incentive in the form of your eye health.

Our eyes are often missed off our health checklist, primarily because of the (in this instance, somewhat ironic) ‘seeing is believing’ approach: if we can’t see a problem, we trust that there is no problem to see. Of course this isn’t strictly true. This is why regular eye tests are important with 50% of sight threatening problems being found at regular eye examinations.

It is recommended that we have an eye test every two years, however we often forget that these mark more than an occasion to pick out a pair of new specs. In reality, these tests are an opportunity for our opticians to get to grips with what’s going on behind our gaze, allowing them to detect any general health problems and early signs of eye conditions before symptoms may have started to emerge. When eye tests only take around half an hour, there’s really no excuse to skip them.

So, while you’re waiting for your next eye test, what else can you do to help your eyes help you? When it comes to looking after your sight, you might be surprised to know that there is more you can do than meets the eye. Here’s our handy guide to helping your eyes:

  1. Give up smoking
    • The negative effects of smoking are fairly well known but did you know that smokers are at higher risk of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)? The condition is one of the UK’s leading causes of sight loss and smokers are twice as likely to develop it.
  2. Keep fit
    • Studies have linked exercise to reducing the risk of sight loss. This is because it reduces the chances of diabetes, high blood pressure, and narrowing of the arteries, all of which can lead to losing your sight.
  3. Eat healthily
    • A healthy, balanced diet can radically help your eyesight. Nutritionists have deduced that foods such as blackcurrants, leafy greens, and egg yolks all keep your eyes in check. Speaking of eye-friendly foods, you may be wondering whether carrots are as good at maintaining your eyesight as your mother may have suggested. The answer: yes! This is because carrots are rich in beta-Carotene, an antioxidant that your body converts into Vitamin A, which the University of Maryland Medical Center states is essential to good vision and eye health. Studies suggest one carrot supplies 278% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, so get chomping.
  4. Limit your alcohol intake
    • Alcohol decreases your body’s vitamin absorption, in turn increasing cataract formation and AMD. The effects on your sight are so well known that there is even a medical term used solely to describe the permanent loss of vision and blindness as a result of alcohol consumption: it’s toxic amblyopia.
  5. Protect your eyes from the sun
    • It may be winter but that’s no excuse to ignore the effects of the sun! UV rays from the sun can irreversibly damage your sight, so the College of Optometrists recommends buying a good pair of quality dark sunglasses to protect yourself from the sunshine.

Optic expert Matt Rose, Director at Brittain Opticians on Harborne High Street, says, “Eye health is so commonly taken for granted that people only go to their optician when a problem is already in full swing. Too often, this is too late. We want to help people understand that checking your eyes should be like checking your car. When you get your MOT done, your mechanic finds things that you wouldn’t even have thought to check and your eyes are no different. Metaphorically, whilst you may notice a scratch on your car, we lift the bonnet and check the engine underneath.”

In a bid to encourage more people to be savvy about their sight, Brittain Opticians is inviting more people to book their eye tests. Brittain Opticians take pride in looking after your eyes and offer a wide-range of eye-care services, starting from simple eye tests all the way to Fundus photography, Goldmann ocular pressure tests, and dry eye examinations. Brittain Opticians work with the best brands in the business, so if you do need to purchase a pair of glasses you know you’re in safe hands. What’s more, when you buy your first pair of glasses, you’ll get a free lunch from The Plough on them!

So there’s no time to waste. Head to Harborne High Street to pay Brittain Opticians a visit, or go to the website for more information:

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