Experts call for greater eye self-care during national eye awareness week 2021
- 38% of Brits have not been for an eye test in the last two years
- Of those who avoid getting their eyes tested, 34% say this is because they cannot afford to get new glasses or contact lenses
- Eye care is low down on the priorities since the pandemic began, with only 9% putting more effort into looking after their eyes, in contrast to putting an emphasis on being more active (34%), eating healthier (29%) and losing weight (25%)
New survey data from eyecare experts Théa reveals Brits ignore their eye health, and do not attend regular eye tests. One in three (38%) of those surveyed haven’t had their eyes tested in the last two years, despite advice from the NHS that people should have their eyes tested every two years.1,2
Eye tests are not just about finding out whether you need glasses or have a change in prescription. An eye exam can pick up general health problems and early signs of conditions such as Dry Eye Disease, which can lead to more serious infections or can cause permanent damage to the eye in more serious cases, if left untreated.2
The Me, Myself and Eye research was conducted among more than 2,000 members of the British public by YouGov and found that 38% have not been to an eye test in at least two years.1 Almost a fifth (18%) admitted to avoiding getting their eyes tested, and of these over a third (36%) said they would only go if they thought there was an issue with their eyes, whilst 29% felt no need because they feel that their eyes are fine/healthy.1 34% said that they do not attend eye tests as they cannot afford to get new glasses or contact lenses.1 9% also said they didn’t like people touching their eyes and another 9% were generally too worried or scared. 8% also said that the equipment used by an Optometrist makes them anxious.
Eye conditions that can be easily picked up by regular eye exams, such as Dry Eye Disease are on the rise. In fact, the research found that more than one in seven (15%) of the GB population are suffering with Dry Eye Disease, with women (9% of men vs 20% of women) and the over 55s (20%)3 particularly affected. Many people also experience symptoms with almost a third (30%) having suffered painful, sore or burning sensations in their eyes and (48%) feeling the uncomfortable sensation of having something in their eye.3 34% had watery eyes, and one in five (21%) had red eyes.3 Despite the obvious discomfort of Dry Eye Disease, almost a third (32%) of those having experienced a symptom waited to see if the symptoms would go away by themselves and didn’t seek any treatment.3
Eye experts are calling for people to take their eye health as seriously as other parts of their body. Only 9% of people put eye health as a top priority in pandemic Britain and it hardly figures on the British consciousness, compared to a much bigger push to be more active (34%), eat healthier (29%) and lose weight (25%).1
“It's easy to neglect your eyes because they often do not hurt when there's a problem,” says Sarah Farrant, Optometrist, and member of Théa’s EYE (Expert in Eyes) Team. “We rely on our eyes for everyday tasks, and we tend to take them for granted. It’s time to think about lifestyle choices and how these can affect our eye health. Our everyday habits such as makeup, screen use, wearing contact lenses and mask wearing can make eye conditions worse. It’s long overdue that people place greater emphasis on looking after their eyes like they do other parts of their body.”
Additionally, while many of us opt for natural and preservative-free products in our beauty regime and diet, Brits don’t seem to be taking the same care when choosing products for their eyes. Only 27% of those surveyed say that they don’t mind whether an eye product has preservatives in it or not and 45% don’t know the impact of using products with preservatives on their eyes.3
“Make sure you opt for preservative free drops and wipes when shopping for your eyes” adds Tania Cork, Local Community Pharmacist, and member of Thea’s EYE Team. “Preservatives have been proven to cause long term damage to the eye and are less effective long term. You only get one pair of eyes so it’simportant you look after them correctly. Speak to your local Optometrist or Pharmacist to find out more.”
TIPS FOR MORE EYE SELF-CARE
Sarah Farrant, Théa’s EYE Team member and Optometrist, shares her top tips for looking after your eyes:
- Use the 20-20-20 rule when using a screen by looking away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Choose preservative free eye drops, gels, sprays or wipes.
- Keep an eye out for the symptoms of eye conditions such as Dry Eye Disease and Blepharitis with a quick symptom checker (e.g., https://www.youreyehealth.co.uk/symptom-checker).
- And don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Even if you think your eyes are fine, make sure you go to an eye test every two years. If you are a child wearing glasses, have a history of glaucoma, or aged 70 or over this should certainly be more often.
1. Thea Pharmaceuticals. 2021. Me, Myself and Eye survey [data set]. YouGov. Data on file.
2. NHS. Look after your eyes. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/look-after-your-eyes/. Accessed September 2021.
3. Thea Pharmaceuticals. 2021. NoEyeDea survey [data set]. YouGov. Data on file.