1 in 10 people can’t remember the last time they went to the optician

With global blindness set to triple by 2050, how can we take better care of our own eye health here in the UK?

Our newest research reveals that, for 45% of Britons, our sight is our most valuable sense – and yet more than half of us (53%) are not getting our eyes tested every two years, which is what opticians recommend. In fact, 85% of us don't feel like we know enough about our eye health: a worrying number when you consider the monumentally huge implications of losing your sight.

These figures come from our latest survey, released today. In light of the Vision Loss Expert Group report, which estimates that global blindness will triple by 2050, we spoke to 2000 people - including 578 parents – about how they take care of their eyesight, what they know about how children's vision develops, and their own eye health experiences.

Our survey highlighted a huge disparity in attitudes based on age. Those aged 55+ were more than twice as likely to get their eyes tested every two years (62%) when compared with 18-24 year olds (28%), and yet in a digital age, young people are at an increased risk of eye strain, caused by the blue light from screens.

But it is not just young people – across the age groups, we all need to be more aware of how to protect our sight, and more inclined to access the services the UK has to offer.

As Mr Larry Benjamin, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and one of our long-standing medical volunteers, says:

Mr Larry Benjamin

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

The results released today show that we need to do more to empow­er par­ents with the nec­es­sary facts to pro­tect their children’s vision. In fact, just 15% of those sur­veyed said that they felt knowl­edge­able about eye health in general.

Mr Larry Benjamin examines x-rays in the Strabismus ward

As an Orbis volunteer, Larry Benjamin has trained doctors around the world and seen first-hand the devastating consequences that an absence of eye care and knowledge can have on someone’s future. In the UK, we have many avenues open to us in order to keep our eyes healthy, not least the NHS. Others aren't so lucky. As he went on to say:

Mr Larry Benjamin

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

If peo­ple in devel­op­ing coun­tries are unable to seek help to have their cataract removed or receive a sim­ple pair of glass­es, adults and chil­dren can be plunged into pover­ty. We’re very lucky that we have the NHS to help us when we expe­ri­ence difficulties

And yet, the parents of 0 – 18 year olds that we surveyed are particularly uninformed when it comes to their children’s sight. 78% were unaware that the NHS recommends children have their sight tested in reception (age 4-5) and almost one in five (18%) have never taken their child for an eye test. Only 13% of parents knew that glasses could be prescribed for children as young as 1 month old.

But while in the UK we have systems in place to help parents look after their children's eye health, in many of the areas where we work there is a serious lack of access to eye care. This can have lifelong repercussions. In some instances, it causes irreversible blindness – often simply because a condition is not caught in time - forcing children to drop out of school, damaging their future prospects and leaving them in the dark.

This is why we launched our See My Future appeal. Until 23rd June all donations will be doubled by the UK government, enabling Orbis to save the sight of twice as many adults and children across Africa and Asia.

Mr Larry Benjamin

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Half of all child­hood blind­ness is avoid­able. Hope­ful­ly this sur­vey will encour­age peo­ple to get both their and their children’s eyes test­ed more often, some­thing many par­ents in oth­er parts of the world aren’t able to do as eas­i­ly. And by sup­port­ing Orbis’s See My Future appeal, you could help pre­vent a life of unnec­es­sary blind­ness. Just £5.50 dou­bled to £11 could pro­vide two new pairs of glass­es to chil­dren strug­gling to see in school. Thanks to the UK government’s Aid Match scheme, and the British public’s gen­eros­i­ty, Orbis’s See My Future appeal will have twice the impact.

Save a child's sight. Change a child's future.

Close the modal
Sorry there was an error.
Try again