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Vision and Eye Health 2020

Focused on good eye health

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Jo Churchill

Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care

To mark the start of National Eye Health Week, 21- 27 September, Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Jo Churchill, explains why looking after your eye health and vision matters. Below, she discusses the importance of regular sight tests and the role that eye care practitioners play in helping to keep us healthy.

Our eyesight is precious. You only have to imagine day to day life without sight for a moment to appreciate just how important your vision is, and why eye health matters.

Routine sight tests are often viewed as less important than health checks with your dentist or GP, however, they are just as vital. 

Regardless of whether you wear glasses or contact lenses, or believe your eyesight is fine, I would urge everyone to have their sight tested regularly.[1] Your optometrist will recommend how often this should be depending on your age and other risk factors such as having a close relative with eye disease.

Important health check

During a sight test, your optometrist will test your vision and check the health of your eyes for any issues that may otherwise go undetected. These could include sight-threatening conditions such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. They may also be able to identify other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or raised cholesterol.

The reasons you may develop any of these conditions vary, but can often be linked to your lifestyle,[2] other medical conditions and age. We know that prevention and early detection are key to reducing your risk of avoidable sight loss. 

I would encourage anyone with concerns about their eye health to seek help as soon as possible by contacting their high street optician. 

Many people[3] are eligible for free NHS sight tests, including children, anyone aged 60 and over, those on certain income-related benefits and other adults with certain risk factors. You can check your entitlement on the NHS.uk website.

Here to help you

I understand that thinking about your eye care needs during these unsettling times may seem like a low priority, and you might feel anxious about having face-to-face care. However, eye care services provided by high street opticians, hospital eye departments and other healthcare settings meet strict safety standards. Across the country, specialist teams are ready to help you get the right eye care for you and your family.  

For more about National Eye Health Week visit www.visionmatters.org.uk

[1] We advise people to have their sight tested once every two years unless their optometrist advises otherwise.
[2] Smoking and obesity can place you at higher risk of developing these conditions.
[3] Children, those aged over 60 years old and those on income related benefits are all eligible for free eye tests.

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