Every year, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) aims to promote eye health by raising awareness of the importance of protecting people’s vision. World Sight Day 2021 falls on Thursday 14 October and this year’s campaign is ‘Love Your Eyes’. It focuses on the role of eye tests in identifying potential problems early, to maximise the chances of preserving sight.
Regular eye tests are vital to pre-empt the myriad of problems that can affect vision if left unchecked or ignored, yet across the globe the IAPB states that over a billion people have no access to eye care services. For many in the UK, these services are relatively easy and straightforward to access, and those most at risk or disadvantaged are financially supported. The ‘Love Your Eyes’ campaign encourages everyone who is able to arrange a sight test to do so.
Symptoms affecting vision can sometimes be sudden and stark, but are often gradual or intermittent. The underlying cause might be as innocuous as a need for glasses, or a new lens prescription (eyes change as we age), but sometimes the reasons can be more insidious. These include diseases specific to the eyes – like glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration – but can also be a consequence of wider health problems, such as vascular or circulatory disease, certain tumours and cancers, or endocrine disorders, like diabetes, amongst others. There can sometimes be negligent causes, too, as a result of a missed diagnosis, delay in treatment, or substandard surgery or anaesthesia, for example.
Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches Cooper supports the IAPB’s call for people to arrange eye tests and comments: “It can be easy for us to take our vision for granted without stopping to acknowledge just how precious it is. Those of us with expertise advising clients with claims relating to a loss of vision know that the earlier the signs and symptoms are detected and treated, the greater the chance of avoiding further loss of sight and, occasionally, of even reversing damage already done. Eye tests play a crucial role in helping clinicians to detect early signs of conditions, sometimes before the patient even perceives any change in vision.
“We understand the devastating impact that a serious loss of sight can have, changing how those affected perceive the world around them and forcing them to adapt to cope with day-to-day life. Loss of vision can affect work and income, the ability to manage domestic tasks, damage relationships, curtail social life, and lead to mental health issues.
“In the UK, we have the benefit and privilege of relatively easy access to eye health services. We would encourage everyone to take the initiative to protect their vision by arranging an eye test and following up regularly in line with their clinician’s advice. The consequences of leaving it too late are all too clear.”