Sight is the sense we most value – 83 per cent of us say it is the sense we’d least like to lose.

New research reveals almost 14 million of us fail to have our eyes checked once every two years, as recommended. Yet, sight tests are essential health checks. Not only can they detect eye conditions, such as glaucoma, before they cause irreversible vision loss, they can also uncover signs of general health problems including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

The worrying truth is many of us only visit our optometrist when we are aware something is wrong and sadly this can mean the damage is already done. National Eye Health Week seeks to make changes by raising awareness of the need to take care of your eyes, and make sight tests as much a part of your healthcare regime as having dental check-ups or a smear test. A routine eye check takes just 30 minutes and for millions of us it’s absolutely free – paid for either by the NHS or employer.

National Eye Health Week seeks to make sight tests a part of your healthcare regime, like dental check-ups

Together with our partner Specsavers we’ve commissioned a study to try to help us understand how much we care about our vision and whether we actually know about the risks that everyday life can throw at our eye health. The results made disturbing reading. Whilst good vision is a priority for many – it’s people’s number one worry about getting older – millions of us are affected by poor eye health.

Three quarters of the people we surveyed reported they’d suffered poor eye health in the last 12 months. It was also clear that people don’t know about the range of services on offer at their local opticians – Eighty per cent were unaware of opticians in their local area offering appointments for the treatment of conditions such as conjunctivitis or dry eyes, despite these services being available at a growing number of high-street optician practices across the country.

One in five people said poor eye health had restricted their daily lives

So over the next seven days we’ll be encouraging people to make sure they’ve had a recent sight test and explaining how making simple lifestyle changes could really benefit your eye health.

We can all give our vision a boost by exercising, eating a balanced diet with plenty of leafy greens and a serving of fish a week; and protecting our eyes from the sun. Watching your weight, lowering alcohol consumption and not smoking can also make a significant difference to your eye health. The key is for everyone to translate their good intentions into action to avoid long-term sight loss.

For more information about caring for your eyes go to www.visionmatters.org.uk