National Eye Health Week – key steps you can take to maintain good eye health

National Eye Health Week

Ahead of National Eye Health Week (18–24 September 2023), the Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting the importance of looking after your eyes at all stages of life and the steps you can take to protect your vision.

Dr Jackie McCall, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “One-in-five of us will experience sight loss in our lifetime, but more than half of sight loss can be prevented. There are lots of ways you can keep your eyes in better shape such as regular eye tests, being physically active, eating healthily and stopping smoking.

“A routine eye examination can often pick up the first signs of a sight loss condition even before there are any symptoms. Early detection and intervention could save sight, or keep a condition under control. As well as helping people to see better, a routine eye test can also detect a range of life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, among others.”

Other key steps you can take to maintain good eye health include:

  • Quit smoking – for outlined guidance and support visit
  • Protect your eyes in bright sunlight and/or glare.
  • Eat healthily and exercise regularly – for help and advice visit
  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes while doing DIY, gardening, sporting activities and/or in the workplace if required.
  • Take regular and short breaks if working at a computer screen, phone or tablet.

Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services at the Strategic Planning and Performance Group, Department of Health, said:

“We know that sight is the sense that we fear losing most, and that a high proportion of sight loss in Northern Ireland is preventable. A regular visit to your local optometrist can detect sight-threatening conditions early, which can help make treatment outcomes better. These sight tests should be every two years for most of us, or annually for older or younger groups, or those with certain medical conditions. In addition, the Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Scheme (PEARS) will see you promptly, without charge, if you develop a sudden change in vision, pain, or discomfort.”

Dr McCall concluded: “We would encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to keep their eyes in good shape. If you notice a sudden change in vision, flashes or floaters contact your local optometrist as soon as possible.”

For more information on how to look after your eyes, visit  

Eye examinations are free for many individuals. For information regarding eligibility for a free NHS eye test, please visit

For information on the NI PEARS scheme, visit