Many people in the UK are feeling the pinch in their pocket as the cost of everyday items such as fuel and food rise to an all-time high but new research[i] has revealed that concerns about money can also impact other areas of our lives, like our eye health and vision.
On average, optometrists surveyed by Optegra eye hospital group estimate 65% of their patients are avoiding essential eye tests altogether due to the cost-of-living crisis.
And the outlook is gloomy. Over half (55%) said they anticipate that the nations eye health, affected by the cost-of-living crisis, will get worse in six months’ time.
The research, conducted amongst British optometrists www.optegra.com, reveals that concerns about the cost of eye tests and subsequent new glasses or contacts is causing some people to skip their regular eye tests, putting their eye health at risk.
- A quarter (26%) of optometrists surveyed said the main reason that people miss their regular eye health check is that they can’t afford the test due to the high cost of living.
- Half 49% agreed that patients are voicing concerns over the cost of contact lenses and new spectacles
- 47% say patients delay eye tests due to their cost
- And 43% of optometrists think patients are putting their sight at risk as a direct result of avoiding eye tests due to cost.
In a bid to help those who are struggling to meet the cost of eye tests and eyewear, employers are stepping up to help – nearly half of the optometrists surveyed (48%) agreed that, since the pandemic, they are seeing more patients whose employers are helping to cover the costs of treatment.
Eye tests are not only essential to maintain good eye health but they can also detect serious underlying health conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma and AMD. Almost a third (30%) of optometrists surveyed said that over the past twelve months, the number of patients they’ve seen with vision problems resulting from broader health conditions has increased.
Because of this, 73% of optometrists agree that eye tests should be government-funded and therefore free for all, to help protect the nations eye health.
Rising costs are not just affecting customers – as business owners, over half (54%) of optometrists surveyed are concerned about keeping their practice open and 29% are making changes to how they run their practice to adapt to economic changes. Nearly half (48%) are concerned about the cost of essential materials.
Mr Amir Hamid, Medical Director at Optegra, said: “There are huge financial pressures on British people at the moment but it is concerning that eye health may suffer as a result. Both with patients avoiding essential eye tests and even optometrists concerned about keeping their practices open due to the cost of living.
“Almost a third of practices (29%) are making practical changes to how they run their business, and 43% of optometrists agree patients are putting their eye health at risk by avoiding eye tests due to cost. This is why we are working with many optometrists across the country to provide speedy free NHS cataract care, so patients can access treatment without unnecessary delay.”
Emma Montgomery, from Essex, has recently decided not to update her lens prescription due to the costs involved. She said: “I wanted to attend my regular eye test as I know how important it is to have my vision checked, but when I was told that my prescription had changed slightly I was hesitant about upgrading.
“Although new lenses would have sharpened my vision, I could still see perfectly well with the current pair and spending hundreds of pounds on new lens wasn’t a priority given how expensive everything is at the moment.”
Optegra Eye Health Care is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services. Established in 2007, it has completed over one million eye procedures from its 31 eye hospitals and clinics across the UK, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.
Optegra brings together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. It performs more than 120,000 treatments annually, both private and publicly funded. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes and great patient service.
Tel: 0800 077 3272
[i] Research commissioned by Optegra Eye Health Care (www.optegra.com) and conducted independently by Censuswide. This online research with 100 British optometrists was conducted between 29 Dec 22-6 Jan 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.