Local Optician Warns Eye Health Crisis Set To Deepen

Premal Patel, store director from Specsavers in Beckenham and Penge is urging locals to put eye health top of their agenda during National Eye Health Week (18 - 24 September) and will be hosting a fund raising event in his/her store for the charity, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

A new report published by charity Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Specsavers shows that one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime despite at least half of all cases being avoidable[i].

Patel says the alarming new statistics show that every day 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK. Women, who tend to live longer, are at greater risk than men, with one in four women set to develop sight loss in their lifetime compared with one in eight men[ii].

Almost six million people in the UK currently live with sight-threatening conditions yet 25 per cent of people are not having an eye test every two years[iii] as recommended by the College of Optometrists[iv]. The extent of the problem means that nearly every family in Britain is touched by sight problems in some way.

Patel says: ‘I know from experience that all of us, from the age of three, should be having our eyes tested regularly because of what an optician can detect.

Patel adds:  ‘Sight is the nation’s most precious sense by far.  Our survey showed that 10 times more people (78 per cent of people) said sight was the sense they fear losing most compared to the next most popular sense, smell (8 per cent), followed by hearing (7 per cent).

‘Worryingly, the survey shows that a quarter of people (23%) are ignoring the first signs of sight loss, despite not being able to see as well in the distance or close up as they used to, and have not sought advice from an optician or medical professional.’

Patel explains why a sight test is paramount.  ‘More than 80 per cent of people are not aware that an optician can spot the early signs of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the UK.

‘In fact, the survey shows that people put their boiler before their eye health; half of UK adults have their boiler serviced once a year, over a third renew their mobile phone contract every two years, while 50 per cent of UK adults last had their eyes tested more than a year ago or never.’

Other results from the survey showed that Brits check their teeth more often than their eyes; 42 per cent visit the dentist once every six months (equating to four times over two years) while 25 per cent  of UK adults have not had an eye test in the past two years or at all.

A quarter of people who spend £50 a year on shoes would not be prepared to pay anything at all for an eye test.

Patel says:  ‘All of our findings show there is a lot to be done to prevent avoidable sight loss and we will be promoting this messaging during National Eye Health Week.  We will also be looking to host activity to raise funds for the RNIB.’

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