If forced to choose, Brits would rather lose almost anything else, such as their sense of taste, hearing or salary, with 76% preferring to lose a limb than their eyesight. Yet, despite two thirds of people in the UK claiming they know how to look after their sight, the majority of Brits are still in the dark about eye care, according to a new global health survey released today (18 July 2012) .

  • Loss of vision costs the UK more than £20 billion per year
  • Every day around 100 people in the UK start to lose their sight
  • By the age of 65, 1 in 6 will become blind or partially sighted

One of the key issues to emerge from the results is that most people don’t realise eye tests can pick up serious medical conditions such as diabetes years before symptoms emerge in other parts of the body.

Over half of those asked (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 Organisation approximately 80% of visual impairment is preventable[4] 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.

Doctor Rob Hicks, commented: “The results show that people clearly value vision but don’t do much to protect their eye sight. The key reason people don’t get their eyes tested is because they don’t believe they have any symptoms – they can see so their eyes are fine. We need to correct this misconception. Getting regular eye examinations not only helps improve one’s vision, but can also provide early detection of other serious diseases years before a patient displays other symptoms. The majority of visual impairments are preventable when caught and treated early.”

Paul Hurrell, Vice President Vision Care, Northern Europe, Bausch + Lomb added: “Currently people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their eyesight. 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.”

Key findings:

– Over a quarter (28%) of Brits are gambling with the sight and general health by not going for regular eye tests every 2 years (in line with NHS recommendations).

– Getting hitched is good for the eyes, with over half of married couples in the UK going for an eye test within the last 12 months, while 74% are more knowledgeable about eye care than singles at just 64%

– Women come out top in the battle of the sexes by taking far better care of their eyes, such as eating a healthy diet and wearing sunglasses, which is not surprisingly confirmed by 94% of UK opticians

– If forced to choose, Brits would rather lose almost anything else, such as their sense of taste, hearing or salary, with 76% preferring to lose a limb than their eyesight

– Younger Brits (aged 18 to 24) are most likely to believe all common eye myths compared to the older population (aged 55+).

Regional variations:

– Those living in Tyne Tees are most likely to have regular eyes tests, with 77% attending every two years (in line with NHS recommendations).

– Londoners are the worst in the UK for getting their eyes tested, only 63% have had an eye appointment within the past 2 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 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!