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Eye Health UK focuses on Public Perception

Vision Matters publishes recent report on Public Perception 

A new report, commissioned by Eye Health UK and Thomas Pocklington Trust to mark National Eye Health Week 19–25 September, highlights stark eye health inequalities and a lack of public knowledge about the range of services on offer in high-street optical practices.

The Eye Q report found most people would rate the quality of their vision as ‘Fair’ (47%) when asked to rank their eye health on a scale from Excellent, Very Good, Fair, Poor to Very Poor. Those rating their vision as Poor or Very Poor were most likely to be older, from lower socio-economic groups or ethnic minorities.

People from ethnic minorities were twice as likely to rate their vision as Poor/Very poor compared to the UK average; whilst people with a household income of less than £14,000 were 5 x more likely to say their vision was Poor/Very poor versus someone a household income over £83,000.

One in five (21%) of people aged 18–24 years rated their vision as Excellent compared to just three per cent of over 65s.

Poor uptake of eye tests is one reason people rate their vision so lowly. The report found more than 17.5million of us haven’t had an eye test in the last two years, as recommended. Men and minority ethnic groups were most likely to skip routine check-ups.

The pandemic has undoubtedly played its part in people not having had a recent eye test however, this was not cited as a key reason for poor uptake. Fears about the cost of eye care was the number one reason given for not having had an eye test (36%), followed by the misnomer that ‘if your eyes are fine you don’t need to have an eye test’ (26%).

Eighteen per cent of people with sight loss who have not had a recent eye test haven’t had one because they mistakenly believe their hospital consultant is already monitoring their general eye health.

Knowledge about entitlement to NHS eye care is patchy. One in ten over 65s aren’t aware they are entitled to NHS eye tests, despite them being free on the NHS for over 60s since April 1999.

Scotland extended this free service to its entire population in 2006, yet a quarter of Scots (26%) don’t know they are entitled to a free NHS sight test.

Many people are unaware about the full range of services offered by high street optical practices. Only around a third of people are aware of emergency eye care services (36%), or NHS appointments for minor eye conditions (35%).

Despite many opticians offering eyewear repairs, often for free, one in three people have no idea that they can visit their local practice for spectacle repairs.

David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK comments: “The Eye Q report highlights a significant need to improve eye health equalities and for the generic promotion of eye care services that people can access on their high street. Improving public awareness of the community eye care offering will help improve the nation’s eye health and prevent avoidable sight loss.”

Mike Bell, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Thomas Pocklington Trust added: “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.”

For a full copy of the Eye Q report please contact


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