14 June 2023

College research highlights potential damage to eye health due to increased cost of living

1 in 5 Brits (22%) have postponed or cancelled a sight test in the past year due to cost concerns

The College of Optometrists is urgently encouraging the public to consider their eye health as recent research shows 50% of people say that the cost of living will have an impact on how they care for their eyes in the future. A concerning 22% of people have admitted to postponing or cancelling an appointment in the past year.

The research, which was conducted in May 2023 also showed: 

  • 1 in 5 (21%) said that they are concerned they will have to delay booking sight tests for themselves or their children until they know they can afford any glasses or lenses that they may require
  • 1 in 5 (21%) have not had a sight test in five years or more
  • Of those that had attended a sight test in the last 5 years, over half (51%) of them were prescribed glasses and 15% were either diagnosed with a wider eye or health condition or referred for further tests with a specialist
  • There is low awareness about NHS-funded sight tests, with only 50% of respondents being aware that those under 16 are entitled to them, and only 48% realising that sight tests are funded for those over 60.

Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists said; “It’s troubling to know that people’s vision and eye health may be impacted by the cost of living crisis, and I would urge anyone due a sight test or with any eye problems such as a change in vision to prioritise it where possible. 

Having your sight tested does not have to be expensive; there are many groups of people who will be entitled to an NHS-funded sight test. We know that people are not aware of the government support available to them; our research shows that only half of people are aware that children under the age of 16 are entitled to NHS funded sight tests in the UK. 

When it comes to your eye health, early detection of eye problems is very important, especially for children, where we have a small window to time to correct any issues. We urge parents particularly not to be put off by cost; even if your child does need glasses, they will be entitled to an optical voucher to help towards the cost.”

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