by Mr. Alex Shortt, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Optegra Eye Health Care a leading ophthalmic surgeon and an expert in the fields of cornea, cataract and refractive surgery. He has 20 years’ experience of cataract and lens exchange surgery, 10 years’ experience of laser eye surgery and performs over 2,000 of these procedures per year. Mr. Shortt’s initial medical training was at the National University of Ireland in Dublin. This was followed by a PhD in Ophthalmology at University College, London and 10 years of specialist surgical training at Moorfields Eye Hospital London. In 2016 he left Moorfields to join Optegra as a vision correction consultant. As well as being a highly qualified cataract, lens exchange, LASIK and LASEK surgeon, Mr Shortt is one of the UK’s most experienced ReLEx SMILE and Presbyond LASIK surgeons. He is also leading expert on the use of multifocal lens implants in patients having refractive lens exchange, an area of expertise in which he lectures worldwide. Mr. Shortt sits on the editorial boards of various professional publications and has published extensively himself. He has received numerous prizes and distinctions including the Fight for Sight prize and the Moorfields Research Medal for his contributions to advancing the field of vision research.

General eye health advice and how to keep eyes healthy 

Day after day I hear from patients that poor eyesight is affecting their lifestyle, that they are eager to correct their vision and protect their eye health.

Sight is most certainly the sense that the majority of people value the most, yet so many of us take it for granted. Are you doing all you can to protect this vital sense and ensure your vision is the best standard possible? 

Latest research from specialist eye hospital group Optegra shows that 55 per cent of British adults would feel happier if they could see more clearly. 

So how can we secure this?

First and foremost, the best way to help achieve this is as easy as attending a regular eye test!

The NHS recommends an eye health check every two years but on average British adults have their eyes tested every three years.  And one in 10 adults have never had their eyes tested!

Why are eye tests so important? 

An eye test is one of the most important things you can do for your eyes and provides two enormous benefits: 

1. It checks your short, mid and long-distance vision is as clear and strong as possible and provides options to improve your sight.  A prescription for glasses or contact lenses so that you have optimum day to day vision can make a huge difference to quality of life.

2. It checks the health of your eye. Many eye conditions such as glaucoma and retinal problems can be a serious risk to your eyesight and the best chance of successful treatment is to detect them early. As some conditions do not have symptoms in their initial stages, the only way to diagnose them early is through a regular eye test. 

But you may well be one of the 32 per cent of British adults who does not know that their eye test will also spot health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure? 

Or one of the 28 per cent who does not appreciate their optician can spot eye disease even before symptoms? 

According to GPs across the UK, this is why eye tests are so important:

• 76 per cent say eye tests are vital to diagnose a range of health conditions;

• 74 per cent say they can tell us a lot about the patients’ wider state of health;

• 68 per cent have picked up on a serious health condition due to examining eyes.

And according to optometrists: 

• 64 percent frequently diagnose an eye condition when the patient had no symptoms;

• And sadly, 26 percent have diagnosed an eye condition too late to treat due to the patient delaying having an eye test.

If you have a family history of eye disease, require glasses, wear contact lenses or are over the age of 50, it is particularly important to have regular eye examinations to detect any preventable or early signs of eye disease.

Why not set a reminder on your phone or tablet to book a bi-annual appointment – it comes around so fast, it is easy to forget!

How to keep eyes healthy

There are also several other important ways to protect your eyes and keep them healthy.

• Wear sunglasses – your eyes are up to ten times more sensitive to UV damage from the sun than your skin.  So any day when you may reach for the suntan lotion as your skin is at risk of sunburn, make sure you grab your sunnies too!

• Stop smoking – smoking is a cause of eye problems as well as general health issues, so best avoided.  Contact your GP for advice if you wish to quit.

• Be careful with contact lenses – there is a high risk of infection from putting contacts in and out every day, so always wash your hands before handling and remove them if your eyes are red or uncomfortable.

• Wear safety glasses for DIY or heavy gardening to avoid eye accidents.

• Our overuse of technology, especially on small screens, is having an impact on our eyes – drying them out as we forget to blink, and causing eye strain from too much focus on one point. Give your eyes a break from the screen by following the 20-20-20 rule to rest and re-focus: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

• Eat well to see well – for great foods to fuel your sight, follow the traffic light diet by eating red, amber (yellow and orange) and green foods.

So, please don’t neglect your eyes - these are all easy steps which can make a huge difference.

And remember that if you notice any changes in your vision which are unusual for you, do not ignore them. Get them checked with a healthcare professional as the earlier any issues are detected, the more successful the treatment is likely to be.

If you are keen to enjoy excellent vision without the hassle of contact lenses or spectacles, there are a number of treatment options available to you from laser eye surgery, to lens replacement or implantable contact lenses.  

Check out to find out more or for a free consultation please call 0800 358 0825.