Picture Credit: Harry Quan via Unsplash
Picture Credit: Harry Quan via Unsplash

Eyecare experts Théa have unveiled some shocking statistics after conducting a recent survey via YouGov for National Eye Health Awareness Week 2021, which has found that a huge portion of Brits ignore their eye health and aren't booking, nor attending regular eye tests.

More than 2,000 members of the British public took part in the research, whcih found that 38% hadn't been for an eye test in at least two years, and almost a fifth (18%) admitting that they actively avoid getting their eyes tested for various reasons. Of those, 36% said they'd only go to the opticians if they thought there was a problem, with 29% self-diagnosing their eyes as healthy.

What Théa want the public to recognise however, is that eye tests are not just about finding out whether or not you need glasses or a change in prescription. Examinations can essential in picking up general health problems and early signs of conditions such as Dry Eye Disease.

As would be expected, Dry Eye Disease occurs when there's not enough lubrication on the surface of the eye. Each time you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye, but those who suffer with Dry Eye don't have enough oily lubrication in the tears. The eyes then try to produce more tears to compensate, which leaves the sufferer with watery eyes that feel like there's hot grit under the eyelid.

With more than one in seven (15%) of the British population suffering with Dry Eye Disease, women (20%) and the over 55s (20%) are particularly affected.

Almost a third (30%) have suffered painful, sore or burning sensations in their eyes, with 48% feeling the uncomfortable sensation of having something in their eye. 34% had watery eyes, with just over one in five (21%) having red eyes.

Picture Credit: Dmitry Ratushny via Unsplash
Picture Credit: Dmitry Ratushny via Unsplash

“It's easy to neglect your eyes because they often do not hurt when there's a problem,” says Sarah Farrant, Optometrist, and member of Théa’s EYE (Expert in Eyes) Team. “We rely on our eyes for everyday tasks, and we tend to take them for granted. It’s time to think about lifestyle choices and how these can affect our eye health. Our everyday habits such as makeup, screen use, wearing contact lenses and mask wearing can make eye conditions worse. It’s long overdue that people place greater emphasis on looking after their eyes like they do other parts of their body.”

“Make sure you opt for preservative free drops and wipes when shopping for your eyes” adds Tania Cork, Local Community Pharmacist, and member of Thea’s EYE Team. “Preservatives have been proven to cause long term damage to the eye and are less effective long term. You only get one pair of eyes so it’s important you look after them correctly. Speak to your local Optometrist or Pharmacist to find out more.”

Cork's comments are important, as the research also found that only 27% of those surveyed say they don't mind whether preservatives are included in an eye product, with almost half (45%) not knowing the impact of using said products with added preservatives.

Sarah Farrant, Théa’s EYE Team member and Optometrist, shares her top tips for looking after your eyes:

  • Use the 20-20-20 rule when using a screen by looking away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  • Choose preservative-free eye drops, gels, sprays or wipes.  
  • Keep an eye out for the symptoms of eye conditions such as Dry Eye Disease and Blepharitis with a quick symptom checker, such as this one: https://www.youreyehealth.co.uk/symptom-checker.
  • Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Even if you think your eyes are fine, make sure you go to an eye test every two years. If you are a child wearing glasses, have a history of glaucoma, or you're aged 70 or over, this should certainly be more often.

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