Optometrists are at the frontline in the fight to prevent blindness caused by conditions like glaucoma.

According to Geoff Roberson, Professional Advisor with the Association of Optometrists, regular eye tests help pick up the first signs of disease and abnormality in the eye.

He says: “An eye examination can detect many serious eye conditions early allowing prompt treatment and better prognosis.

 

“The problem with many eye conditions is, unlike tooth ache, there is no pain. In the case of glaucoma, where internal pressure damages the retina, the onset is gradual and there are no symptoms until the late stages. Once someone has lost their sight, it may be too late and can not be reversed."

“Visual impairment is devastating for patients and families and a burden on health services. People need ongoing support for the rest of their life.”

 

Mr Roberson recommends eye tests for adults at least every two years, more often where there are risk factors. Optometrists see millions of people a year across the UK for eye tests, which also detect other health conditions.

Mr Roberson explains: “The eye is the only part of the body where you can see blood vessels, arteries and veins, by looking through the pupil. This gives an indication of general health, detecting things like high blood pressure, diabetes and hardening of the arteries. The optometrist can pick up even rare conditions such as brain tumors and strokes.”

Up to 4.5million GP appointments and 270,00 A&E visits annually are for eye problems. Mr Roberson says optometrists should be the first port of call for non-urgent eye issues, relieving pressure on GPs and Accident and Emergency.