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Vision & Eye Q3 2022

The nation’s eye IQ is missing the mark

iStock / Getty Images Plus / uniquepixel

David Cartwright

Optometrist & Chairman, Eye Health UK

To mark National Eye Health Week (19–25 September), we take the chance to explain why we need to wise up when it comes to our vision and eye health.

One in three of us will suffer sight loss in our lifetime, yet half of this is avoidable. The findings of a new report commissioned by Eye Health UK and Thomas Pocklington Trust reveal many of us lack basic ‘know-how’ when it comes to caring for our eyes.

Essential health check

More than 17.5 million of us haven’t had an eye test in the last two years, as recommended. Men and minority ethnic groups are most likely to skip this essential health check. Routine eye tests are vital for everyone, in the same way that dental check-ups, smear tests and prostate screening are.

Not only can an eye test detect eye conditions, such as glaucoma, years before you notice a change in your vision, but they can also uncover signs of general health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, early signs of heart disease and even brain tumours.

Routine eye tests are vital for everyone

Red flag symptoms

The Eye Q Report also reveals a worrying lack of awareness when it comes to ‘red flag’ symptoms linked to sight-threatening eye conditions.

Despite being symptoms of retinal detachment — a condition requiring urgent treatment to avoid permanent sight loss — only one in five of us (19%) would seek same-day medical attention if we suddenly saw lots of flashes or floaters in our vision, and fewer than half of us (48%) would take urgent action if we saw a shadow, veil or curtain over our vision.

Lifestyle matters

Your lifestyle also matters when it comes to eye health. Yet, just four in ten Brits believe exposure to the sun’s UV can impact eye health, despite cumulative UV exposure increasing the risk of cataracts and many other sight-threatening conditions.

The report also found a meagre 8% of us link exercise and eye health even though evidence shows being physically active can slash your risk of visual impairment. Whereas, only 13% link smoking and sight loss despite it being directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss.

Give your eyes attention

With 60% of us worrying about our long-term vision, it’s vital we all learn about the simple ways we can care for our eyes and keep our vision healthy.

For more on looking after your eyes and the Eye Q Report, visit

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