No watching TV, no reading and no writing – it’s unimaginable.
Yet according to research from Pfizer, we are constantly neglecting our eyesight and putting our vision at risk.
Fewer than half of UK adults have had an eye test in the last five to 10 years and despite the fact that many people are entitled to free eye tests through their employer, or as a result of social circumstances, 18 per cent of us only go to the opticians if we have a problem with our eyes.
However, glaucoma - the most common cause of preventable blindness in the UK - often goes unnoticed until it is in its advanced stages, by which time treating the disease is much more difficult.
More than 500,000 people in England and Wales are affected by glaucoma, which can be detected by a simple eye test at any high-street opticians.
Ian Murdoch, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, says: “In all the developed world only half of those with glaucoma are diagnosed and receiving therapy. This need not be the case – everyone has access to eye health professionals.”
Pfizer’s research confirms the findings of a survey carried out by Westfield Health earlier this year, which revealed that six per cent of people in the poll have never had their eyes tested.
Westfield’s survey also found that cost is the main reason why people choose not to visit the optician, with 50 per cent of respondents unable to afford to replace their glasses as often as they would like.
Avoiding eye tests can have a direct effect on our capability to work as impaired vision can cause headaches and lead to sickness absence or lack of productivity.
Gil Vasey, Director of Specsavers says: “A sight test can often be at the bottom of people’s list when it comes to maintaining their everyday health. However, when you think about how much visual stress and strain our eyes endure on a daily basis, for example looking at a computer screen, driving and watching television, it is essential to look after one of the most important organs in the body. Without regular testing, eyes can deteriorate without any real telltale signs. Headaches and migraines that occur as a result of an outdated prescription can make life extremely uncomfortable for those concerned and ignoring the problem while saving for a new pair of glasses is far from ideal. A bi-annual eye examination is recommended for most people. It may be necessary to have examinations more frequently depending on your age and medical history. The eye examination can pick up early signs of potentially blinding eye conditions such as glaucoma.”
Westfield Health Chief Executive Jill Davies says: “Our eyesight is precious, but we often take it for granted. However, neglecting our eyes can lead to serious complications that can be easily avoided by getting your eyes tested. Optical has always been a key driver of business for Westfield Health. Our cash plans allow policyholders to claim back the cost of eye examinations and glasses, up to set limits, meaning they never have to compromise their vision for the sake of saving money.”