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Eye health given low priority

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Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 7:00am 17th January 2016.

Nearly half of all British adults do not have regular eye tests - as conditions such as diabetic eye disorder and glaucoma are on the rise.

That is according to a recent survey which found 44% neglect to visit an optician at least once every two years.

Dr Dan Lindfield is a consultant opthalmologist based in Guildford: "We're quite used to having mobile phone contracts expire in 12 months and updating them, and maybe seeing a dentist every year, but we're aren't very good at checking our eyes.

"There's the lack of awareness that people should be having an eye test every year - or at least every 18 months - to check their eye health.

"We tend to wait until we have a problem to then get things sorted."


He said opticians can diagnose more than just sight problems: "Mostly, the things that we can detect before you know about them yourselves are glaucoma and raised eye pressure that have no symptoms.

"They are found on an eye test long before they bother people day to day.

"And the same with diabetes - you can find you're diabetic with regard to an eye test before your doctor can find it on a blood test."

The research by Optegra Eye Hospital Surrey found although four in five adults worried about their eyesight, 44% did not have regular eye tests every two years, as recommended by the College of Optometrists.

It also found both GPs and opticians cite the lack of regular testing as one of the biggest causes of rising eye health problems, along with smoking, diet, UV rays and technology.

Ninety percent of opticians say they are seeing an increase in eye health problems compared to five years ago.

Other statistics show more than 26% of adults turn to their GP, rather than an optician, for help if they have an eye problem, and 63% of opticians feel there is a serious lack of public knowledge around eye health.

And 44% of GPs say they feel less confident in dealing with eye conditions than any other part of the body.

Dr Lindfield said this was partly because of specialisation and improved technology which GP practices would not have access to.

He said opticians are better equipped and have the specific training to deal with eye health.

Optegra will be hosting regular education programmes across the UK for GPs and opticians, and will be touring the country next month - including at the Friary Centre in Guildford - offering free eye health checks.

 

 

 

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