New research reveals that over half of Brits (53%) do not get their eyes tested every 2 years as recommended, and just over 1 in 10 (11%) can’t remember the last time they went to the optician. This is despite 45% of those surveyed listing sight as their most valuable sense.
The survey also highlighted a disparity in attitudes to eye health based on age. Those aged 55 years and over are more than twice as likely to get their eyes tested every 2 years (62%) as 18-24 year olds (28%)—however in a digital age, young people are at an increased risk of eye strain.
The poll of 2000 people was conducted by international eye care charity Orbis UK. With global blindness set to triple by 2050, the results highlight that Brits need to be more aware of how to protect their sight and more inclined to access the services the UK has to offer.
Larry Benjamin, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and a long-standing medical volunteer for the charity, said: “The results released today highlight a worrying lack of action when it comes to people’s vision. Just 15% of those surveyed said that they felt knowledgeable about eye health.
“As an Orbis volunteer, I have trained fellow doctors all around the world and have seen the devastating consequences that a lack of access to eye care can have on someone’s future. If people in developing countries are unable to seek help to have their cataract removed or receive a simple pair of glasses, adults and children can be plunged into poverty. We’re very lucky that we have the NHS to help us when we experience difficulties.”
UK parents of 0–18 year olds are particularly uninformed when it comes to their children’s sight—78% were unaware that the NHS recommends children have their sight tested in reception (age 4-5) and almost one in five (18%) have never taken their child for an eye test. Only 13% of parents knew that glasses could be prescribed for children as young as 1 month old.
In many areas of the world where Orbis works, a lack of access to eye care for children can have lifelong repercussions, in some instances causing irreversible blindness if certain conditions are not caught in time. Children can be forced to drop out of school with issues such as refractive error, cataract and strabismus (severe squint) impacting their ability to see the blackboard, their textbooks or play with friends.
The charity launched their See My Future appeal in response to this and until June 23 all donations will be doubled by the UK government, enabling Orbis to save the sight of twice as many adults and children across Africa and Asia.
“Half of all childhood blindness is avoidable. Hopefully this survey will encourage people to get both their and their children’s eyes tested more often, something many parents in other parts of the world aren’t able to do as easily,” Mr. Benjamin said. “By supporting Orbis’s See My Future appeal, you could help prevent a life of unnecessary blindness. Just £5.50 doubled to £11 could provide two new pairs of glasses to children struggling to see in school. Thanks to the UK government’s Aid Match scheme, and the British public’s generosity, Orbis’s See My Future appeal will have twice the impact.”