Millions are risking their eyesight by not getting regular eye tests – despite it being the sense they treasure the most, according to a report from National Eye Health Week and leading high street opticians Specsavers.
The Generation Eye Report1 – found almost 14 million people in the UK are not having an eye test as recommended at least every two years, despite 55 per cent saying deteriorating vision is their biggest worry about getting older.
The research, unveiled on the first day of National Eye Health Week (19 to 25 September), investigated the value people place on their vision and the depth of knowledge in the UK about eye health. Based on a survey of more than 2000 UK adults it revealed three quarters (75 per cent) of people had suffered poor eye health in the last 12 months and more than one in five (22 per cent) said this had restricted or impaired their daily life. This is despite studies showing that nearly half of all cases of sight loss are preventable2.
David Cartwright, Chair of National Eye Health Week, says: “What our study found was that millions are totally in the dark when it comes to eyes and eye health. National Eye Health Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all. An eye test at an opticians is quick and easy, and for a lot of people, including children and over-60s, is free on the NHS. Poor eye health is affecting every aspect of daily life. This National Eye Health Week, our message is clear: people across the UK, of all backgrounds, age groups and genders need to recognise that our vision is both precious and fragile, and thus the risks to it need to be understood, accepted and addressed.”
Despite the number of people not getting regular tests, the report found deteriorating vision was people’s number one fear of getting old – ahead of illness (50 per cent) and losing their hearing (32 per cent).
Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson, says: “The Generation Eye Report makes startling reading. Millions are risking losing their sight unnecessarily because they fail to have regular sight tests and make poor life style choices. Half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention. Raising awareness and educating people on the importance of looking after their eyes through regular testing and better lifestyle choices is absolutely vital to addressing the nation’s eye health problems.”
The report focused on three key groups: 18 – 24 year olds (The Unseen Generation), their parents (New Presbyopes) aged between 45 and 54 and their grandparents aged 65 and over (The Low Vision Generation).
Worryingly it found those aged 18-24 were the group whose quality of vision or state of eye health had most restricted or impaired their daily life (36 per cent), with around a third (32 per cent) not having an eye test in the last two years.
The report found 80 per cent of 45 – 54 year olds said they’d experienced problems with their eye health in the last year.
While 94 per cent of over-65s wore prescription eyewear however almost a third (32%) didn’t know wearing the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses could affect their eyesight.
1The Generation Eye report is based on the findings of a survey commissioned by National Eye Health Week and Specsavers. The survey was conducted by Atomik Research, in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations, on a representative sample of 2002 UK respondents aged 18+ between 24 – 31 August 2016. All figures quoted in the above are from this study unless otherwise quoted.