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See the benefits of a healthy lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyle puts vision at risk as number of people registered blind rises


Sight charity the Eyecare Trust1 is warning how poor diets, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol and obesity could be to blame for an alarming decline in the UK’s vision.

A report commissioned by HealthSure2, one of the UK’s leading and most innovative healthcare cash plan providers, to mark National Eye Week (11 – 17 September) highlights how Brits are oblivious to the fact that making the right lifestyle choices can preserve, and even restore, their vision.

More than half of those surveyed for the healthy eyes report had no idea that what they ate could affect how well they see. This is despite the fact that eating just one portion of fish a week can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration3 – a condition that severely impairs the vision of over 600,000 people in the UK – by over 40 per cent.

Your weight can also influence your risk of developing potentially sight-threatening conditions. Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) helps to preserve macular pigment density, which, in turn, helps to protect the retina against the breakdown of cells in the eye and the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Damage to blood vessels in the eye caused by excess body weight has also been linked to the onset of glaucoma and diabetes.

Smokers too have a significantly higher risk of eye disease than non-smokers. According to research published by the RNIB smokers are twice as likely to loose their sight in later life than non-smokers. Tobacco chemicals damage the blood vessels behind the eye, which increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Smoking is also associated with other eye diseases such as cataracts.

Although there have been a number of campaigns highlighting the link between smoking and eye disease most of us (42%) are still unaware of the dangers that smoking presents to our eye health.

However, encouragingly, 60 per cent of smokers surveyed for the Healthy Eyes report confessed that the thought of damaging their sight would incentivise them to quit.

Iain Anderson, Chairman of the Eyecare Trust comments: “As the number of people registered blind or partially sighted continues to rise we are uncovering growing evidence that lifestyle factors play a significant role in determining the long-term health of our eyes. Making the right lifestyle choices from the start can help preserve your vision, however, it’s never too late to start making changes, as in some instances, vision that is already in decline can be restored by following a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and generally cutting down on the things that we know are bad for us like cigarettes and alcohol.”

To help encourage people to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle and keep their eyes in peak condition the Eyecare Trust, in partnership with National Eye Week sponsor, HealthSure, has produced a ten-step guide to healthy eyes.

Copies of the guide can be found online at www.eyecare-trust.org.uk or in optician practices displaying the Eyecare Information Centre logo.

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For further information please contact:

Rachel Spackman
Eyecare Trust Press Office
Tel 01225 423394 or Email: rachel@knowles-cadbury-brown.co.uk


Notes to Editors

Ten steps eyes to healthy eyes
1. Eat a diet rich in lutein and fatty acids
2. Exercise regularly
3. Get a good night’s sleep
4. Quit smoking
5. Use protective goggles
6. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
7. Protect your eyes against the harmful effects of UV light
8. Watch your weight and maintain a healthy BMI
9. Drink water
10. Have regular eye examinations

1. The Eyecare Trust is a registered charity that exists to raise awareness of all aspects of ocular health and the importance of regular eyecare.

2. HealthSure is a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing corporate and consumer healthcare cash plans for over 130 years. Its policies provide cash payments towards the cost of regular essential healthcare treatments such as an eye examination, new glasses or contact lenses.

3. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-related Maculopathy, Brian Chua et al.

Regional breakdown of statistics

People’s knowledge of the factors that affect our vision vary by region.

In Scotland only 18% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect their vision. Whilst, 37% knew diet could affect sight and only 4% knew exercise could preserve vision. 40% knew smoking could damage your sight, 63% thought drugs might affect your sight, 55% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 67% knew certain medication could affect sight. 4% of those surveyed also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the North West only 18% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 46% knew diet could affect your sight and only 13% knew exercise could preserve vision. 38% knew smoking could damage your sight, 53% thought drugs might affect your sight, 51% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 50% knew certain medication could affect sight. 4% of those surveyed also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the North East only 21% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 48% knew diet could affect your sight and only 15% knew exercise could preserve vision. 43% knew smoking could damage your sight, 56% thought drugs might affect your sight, 50% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 50% knew certain medication could affect sight. 3% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In Yorkshire and the Humber only 40% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 50% knew diet could affect your sight and only 30% knew exercise could preserve vision. 20% knew smoking could damage your sight, 20% thought drugs might affect your sight, 40% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 40% knew certain medication could affect sight. 4% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In Wales only 24% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 42% knew diet could affect your sight, and only 3% knew exercise could preserve vision. 36% knew smoking could damage your sight, 46% thought drugs might affect your sight, 46% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 46% knew certain medication could affect sight. 15% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the West Midlands only 19% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 42% knew diet could affect your sight and only 15% knew exercise could preserve vision. 36% knew smoking could damage your sight, 57% thought drugs might affect your sight, 51% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 54% knew certain medication could affect sight. 2% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the East Midlands only 27% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 43% knew diet could affect your sight and only 14% know exercise could preserve vision. 49% knew smoking could damage your sight, 74% thought drugs might affect your sight, 67% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 57% knew certain medication could affect sight. 8% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In East Anglia only 18% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 27% knew diet could affect your sight and only 9% knew exercise could preserve vision. 18% knew smoking could damage your sight, 27% thought drugs might affect your sight, 36% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 27% knew certain medication could affect sight. 9% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the South West only 21% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 42% knew diet could affect your sight and only 9% knew exercise could preserve vision. 18% knew smoking could damage your sight, 48% thought drugs might affect your sight, 49% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 51% knew certain medication could affect sight. 2% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In the South East only 29% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 50% knew diet could affect your sight and only 13% knew exercise could preserve vision. 48% knew smoking could damage your sight, 58% thought drugs might affect your sight, 62% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 58% knew certain medication could affect sight. 5% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

In Northern Ireland only 27% of those questioned for the Healthy Eyes report knew that weight could affect your vision. Whilst, 40% knew diet could affect your sight and only 13% knew exercise could preserve vision. 7% knew smoking could damage your sight, 33% thought drugs might affect your sight, 60% thought excessive alcohol could play a part in how well we see and 66% knew certain medication could affect sight. 7% also thought too much sex might make us go goggle eyed!

The HealthSure Healthy Eyes report surveyed 2,1250 adults across the UK between 24 -31 July 2006.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Knowles Cadbury Brown in the following categories: Health, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.