New report finds nation’s Eye Q is missing the mark

Date posted: 23rd September 2022

One in three people will experience sight loss in their lifetime and half of this could be avoided. But a new report into the nation’s Eye Q has found that just one in four people consider routine eye tests as important for maintaining good eye health.

The research was conducted as part of National Eye Health Week (19-25 September) on behalf of  Eye Health UK and Thomas Pocklington Trust, and involved interviews with a representative sample of 2,077 UK adults aged 18+, taking place between 24 and 25 August 2022.

The research also found that more than 17 million people haven’t had an eye test in the last two years, contrary to NHS advice. The biggest barriers to getting regular eye tests were concerns about the cost of eye care and the mistaken belief that ‘if your eyes are fine you don’t need to have an eye test’.

Mike Bell, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Thomas Pocklington Trust said: “The Eye Q report has revealed how little knowledge there is about the importance of eye health, including amongst people already living with some form of sight loss.

Looking after your eyes is just as important as looking after the rest of your body.

Regular eye health checks can help prevent or limit the damage done by many eye conditions. They can also help identify the signs of other health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

The message is clear, get regular eye health checks and never ignore changes in your vision.”

The Eye Q report also uncovered a shocking lack of awareness of ‘reg flag’ symptoms linked to sight-threatening eye conditions. Despite being symptoms of retinal detachment – a condition requiring urgent treatment to avoid permanent sight loss – only one in five of us (19%) would seek same-day medical attention if we suddenly saw lots of flashes and floaters in our vision, and fewer than half of us (48%) would take urgent action if we saw a shadow, veil or curtain over our vision.

When it comes to understanding how lifestyle can impact risk of sight loss just eight per cent of us link exercise and eye health despite evidence showing being physically active can slash the risk of visual impairment.

80% of us are in the dark about the eye health benefits of eating a nutritionally-balanced diet. Just four in 10 (38%) understand exposure to the sun’s UV can impact eye health, a paltry 13 per cent link smoking with sight loss, even though smoking is a direct cause of sight loss, including macular degeneration – the UK’s leading cause of blindness.

With little knowledge about how to take care of our eyes and the factors that can affect them, it’s probably no surprise the report found 77% of us suffered poor eye health in the last 12 months, whilst more than half of us (52%) say our daily lives have been disrupted by the quality of our vision – affecting our ability to do or enjoy daily things like household chores, driving, reading or our hobbies.

The state of our eye health also affected emotions and mental well-being. 55% of respondents say their vision affected their mental state – leaving them feeling frustrated (24%), anxious (16%) or stressed (13%). The effect of eye health on mental state was particularly prevalent amongst people living with sight loss, with 76% saying their vision had affected their mental health.

Commenting on the report David Cartwright, optometrist and chair of Eye Health UK said: “With 60% of us worrying about our long-term vision it’s time for us to wise up and learn how to look after our eyes. Making some simple changes to our lifestyle and having regular eye tests could give your eye health a boost and prevent future sight loss.”


Download the Eye Q report (pdf version)

Download the Eye Q report (large-print word version)

Thomas Pocklington Trust has published a series of stories from people living with sight loss which underline the importance of eye health and taking action.

Read our eye health stories

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