Recently published research by the College of Optometrists reveals that, although 84% of people value their sight more than any other sense, there are worrying statistics on the care that people take of their eyesight.
Clinical advice is that everyone should have their eyes tested at least every two years, yet an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK are living with some form of sight loss. Over half of all sight loss is believed to be preventable if problems are picked up early enough and treated properly.
National Eye Health Week 2015, which runs from 21 to 28 September, is focusing on promoting good eye health for everyone.
Early detection of many eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are key to the treatment options available and to achieving the best possible outcome. Eye tests also have value beyond protecting vision as signs of other diseases including diabetes, raised blood pressure and even some tumours can be picked up during eye examinations. The benefits of eye tests are particularly important for children for whom many of the most common abnormalities can be detected and cured with corrective aids if caught early enough.
Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team emphasises the importance of regular tests: "It is worrying how many people ignore the health advice to take care of the sense that they most value. With over half of vision loss thought to be preventable through regular eye tests, more needs to be done to promote awareness even though many people are exempt from paying charges for NHS eye tests, employers offer voucher schemes and most high street opticians run periodic promotions to cover the costs.
"We know from our experience of advising clients that, in many cases, earlier diagnosis and treatment could have significantly improved their vision. As any delay can cause irreversible damage, it is vital that people have regular eye tests and act immediately if they have any concerns about disturbance to their vision.
“If problems persist after seeking medical advice, we would urge patients to seek a second opinion. Permanent damage can happen quickly and time can be of the essence. It is not worth taking any risks with something as valuable as sight."