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July 18 2012
People in the UK don’t realise that eye tests can pick up serious medical conditions such as diabetes, years before symptoms emerge, according to a global eye health survey released by Bausch + Lomb today (Wednesday July 18).
Over half of those asked in the UK (63%) think that, because they don’t have health symptoms, there is no need to get their eyes tested, while one in three believe that if they can see, their eyesight is fine.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of visual impairment is preventable, yet almost 20% of UK respondents said their last eye examination was over three years ago, or that they had never had an eye test.
The survey reveals that over a quarter (28%) of Brits are gambling with the sight and general health by not going for regular eye tests every two years, in line with NHS recommendations.
Bausch + Lomb collaborated with more than 140 eye health professionals from 26 countries to construct The Global Eye Health Barometer to ensure the results provided information to better understand people’s knowledge and behaviours regarding eye health.
The Barometer surveyed more than 11,000 people in 11 representative countries (the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, the USA, Germany, China, Japan, Russia and India), benchmarking people’s habits and perceptions around eye health.
The research was conducted between May 28 and June 13 and revealed some interesting regional variations regarding eye tests. Londoners are the worst in the UK for getting their eyes tested, only 63% have had an eye appointment within the past two years. Scots are least likely to be put off by the cost of eye care, with only 28% citing this as a reason not to go, compared with 57% in Tyne Tees. Those living in Tyne Tees are most likely to have regular eyes tests, with 77% attending every two years. Those in the Midlands are least aware of the dangers that smoking (52%) and obesity (70%) pose to their sight. Those in Yorkshire are most likely to sacrifice a limb (79%) or their sense of taste (93%) for their sight.
"Currently people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their eyesight,” said Paul Hurrell, Bausch + Lomb’s vice president vision care, Northern Europe. “We hope the results of this survey will draw attention to what is a significant public health issue. We are committed to helping eye care professionals further educate patients about the importance of regular eye tests.”
The survey findings will now be used for educational initiatives and shared with eye health advocates around the world.