It is National Eye Health Week and the organisation that co-ordinates this awareness campaign has commissioned a new study into the nation's eye health, together with the private opticians, Specsavers. The research included a survey of over 2,000 adults across the UK to investigate the care they take of their eyes and how much they know about eye health.
The results published in The Generation Eye Report are concerning. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they had experienced eye problems at some point in the previous 12 months. At least one in five said this had affected their daily life. For some, the problems may have been short-lived but for others they were longer lasting, even permanent.
Extrapolating the survey data led to the conclusion that almost 14 million people are not getting their eyes tested as regularly as they should even though most said that losing their sight was a real fear, particularly as they grow older. Very few knew that smoking increases the risk of vision loss in later life.
A separate study a few years ago concluded that around half of all sight loss was avoidable if proper steps were taken to care for eyes. But it seems from this latest research that many are ignorant of the relatively simple steps they can take to protect their eyesight and of the conditions that can affect it.
Andrew Clayton, a member of Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team, comments: "Those surveyed clearly valued their vision but too often take it for granted. Many are not having their eyes checked often enough and there is a worrying lack of awareness of different conditions that affect sight, including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Some of these need to be treated very quickly to prevent permanent loss of vision or further deterioration.
"More generally, there needs to be greater awareness of the steps that everyone can take to guard against avoidable vision loss. Regular eye tests – at least every two years – are key to identifying early signs of deterioration and avoiding or slowing the rate of natural decline and many people are eligible for free sight checks.
“People who use electronic devices regularly should look away from screens every 20 minutes and focus on objects further away to guard against eye strain.
"We regularly advise patients who are concerned that they have lost sight, but with greater awareness and more concerted care of our eyes, cases of vision loss should be fewer."