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Vision and Eye Health 2019

Check your eye health during your weekly shop

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Sarah Joyce

Superintendent Optometrist

We need to increase awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations and how to access these services.

An eye examination is not just about whether you need glasses or not, it is an important health check not only for eye conditions but also for general health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and even brain tumours, can be detected through an eye examination.

Glaucoma and sight loss due to diabetes are on the rise

One in 16 people have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed); that equates to 6% of the UK population. Diagnosis more than doubled in the last 20 years. 1,700 people have their sight seriously affected by diabetes every year in the UK. By 2025, there will be more than five million estimated people with diabetes.

Is glaucoma one of the world’s leading causes of blindness? Two per cent of the population over 40 have the condition. Often there are no warning signs and regular eye tests are important to detect early signs. Any vision loss is irreversible but early detection, careful monitoring and regular use of treatment can avoid further sight loss.

Your local optometrist is ideally placed and has the skills to monitor and manage these conditions and this is why it is so important that people are having their eyes tested regularly.

It’s often easier – and cheaper – to access a supermarket optician than your GP

We need to increase awareness among our communities about the importance of regular eye examinations and how to access these services. Just as we do now with pharmacists, we should be directing any eye-related concerns to our opticians, not GP surgeries or hospital eye clinics as a first port of call.

There has been much research to show the main reason patients don’t get their eyes examined regularly is due to cost. At ASDA we want to ensure that this is not the factor that stops our communities being able to have their eyes examined regularly. We do this by ensuring that our optical departments are affordable and we don’t penalise patients for having bad eyes by charging them more for things they need like thinner lenses or coatings on the spectacle lenses.

I think that opticians in supermarkets – where there is free parking, longer opening hours and local bus services – mean your eye health can be fitted around the other things on your to do list, making eye care even more accessible to all.

How often should I get my eyes tested?

Most children will need annual check-ups and most adults should have their eyes checked at least every two years. During your test, your optometrist will advise you whether you should be seen more frequently.

Raising the awareness of eye health and the need for our communities to have access to affordable eye care is about everyone in the optical industry pulling together, utilising skill sets of the professionals we have to ensure that we have an efficient eyecare system to avoid unnecessary sight loss.

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