In a nation where having an eye test couldn't be easier, more than half of us haven't had one in the last two years, as recommended. That's according to a new report - The State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 - produced by RNIB and supported by Specsavers.
When asked why this should be a cause of concern, I have to highlight a shocking fact in the report. There are two million people living with sight loss in the UK, almost half of which could have been prevented with a simple eye test.
Far too many of us are just not putting the health of our eyes at the top of our wellbeing list. In fact, many people only seek out an eye test when they've already experienced a problem with their eyes; sadly this is often the case of 'too little too late'.
We are also gambling our children's futures. It's estimated that one in five school age children have an undiagnosed vision problem and that that more than a quarter of parents with children under 16 hadn't taken their child for an eye test before their eighth birthday. When you consider how sight plays a vital part in children's development of language, social and cognitive skills, ensuring one of their vital senses is fully functional is, well, vital.
There is also something that many of us have probably not considered; sight loss can have a massive impact not just on our daily physical lives but our mental health too. A recent UK study found that 43% of people attending a low vision clinic met the criteria for depression; there's more to sight loss than loss of vision.
Whilst the impact sight loss has on our and children's physical and mental health should be paramount, the report also revealed what sight loss is costing the economy. A whopping £28 billion per year due to the direct and indirect costs associated with reduced health and wellbeing.
This is why now, more than ever, we should start taking our eye health seriously. Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street - followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions - can save the public purse billions of pounds each year. More importantly, it can save your sight.
And it's why RNIB and Specsavers are working together to transform the nation's eye health and stop people from needlessly losing their sight, encouraging them to take an active role in looking after their own eye health. You can find out more about maintaining your vision here: https://www.specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/rnib
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