Almost all (91%) adults living in Ireland would rank sight as the sense they would least like to lose, yet shockingly only 49% prioritise their eye health by getting their eyes tested every two years, as per new research commissioned by Specsavers.

National survey

The national survey, which was conducted by Empathy Research1 on behalf of Specsavers to gain a better understanding of Irish people’s attitudes towards their eye health, showed that one in four adults only choose to have their eyes tested when they notice a deterioration in their sight.

Of those who do not get their eyes tested every two years, some 19% believe it is unnecessary despite the professional recommendation. Specsavers has partnered with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland to raise awareness regarding the importance of regular eye tests, as many as 75% of all cases of blindness and visual impairment in Ireland are preventable2.

Regular eye exams

Chris White, CEO of NCBI, says: ‘Many people fear losing their sight over their other senses but they don’t often take the steps necessary to protect their vision. Regular eye exams are a vital health check, as your optometrist may be able to see changes in your eye before you’ve noticed a change in your vision, when steps can be taken to try to prevent or halt any damage.

'We would encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their eye health and visit their local Specsavers store.’

Contributing factors

According to the survey, one of the main contributing factors as to why people do not prioritise eye health is due to perceptions around cost with a view that it is too expensive (19%), and a lack of awareness around PRSI optical benefits (34%).

With the new PRSI optical benefits introduced earlier this year and great value offers available at Specsavers, there is no reason that all adults should not prioritise their eyes in their overall health check.

PRSI optical benefits

Specsavers Ireland chairperson Sinéad Clohessy adds: ‘Specsavers is committed to raising awareness of the importance of regular eye tests, which are not only essential for clear and comfortable vision, but are a vital part of an individuals all round healthcare.

'As this telling research reveals, the gift of sight is something that many of us take for granted. Of those who do not get their eyes tested every two years, shockingly 24% wait until they notice a problem. We want the nation to be proactive about their eye health, as now more than ever, people are entitled to free eyes tests with PRSI optical benefits.'

Specsavers is looking to raise awareness of, and educate the nation on PRSI optical benefits as less than half of adults aged 25-34 are aware of these benefits (46%), with one in three (36%) of those aged 35-44 having no awareness at all.

Eye tests are free if you are entitled to PRSI treatment benefit or have a Medical Card. That’s the same whether you’re employed or self-employed - changes in legislation earlier this year mean self-employed workers are also eligible for a free eye test, funded by PRSI. Specsavers places a strong emphasis on continued professional development, to ensure that customers receive the best possible care and advice for all their optical needs.

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1. The nationally representative survey was conducted in April 2017 by Empathy Research through an online omnibus survey. A sample size of 1,013 was achieved with quotas set on gender, age, social class and region to achieve a sample aligned with national population.

2. Framework to adopt a Strategic Approach for Vision Health in Ireland. Nov 2012.

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