EYE TO EYE with John Wallace
(originally published 22.04.04, The Oban Times)
Last weekend my work schedule was such that I had a long weekend at home with my family. My normally hectic schedule means that I seldom have time to sit down and relax and watch any television. This weekend was an exception in that I actually managed to watch a few programmes I wanted to watch rather than the usual soaps and kids stuff the family watch.
One thing that struck me was the number of adverts dedicated to eye care in one guise or another. I watched several different adverts on one night. Ironically, despite all this advertising hype, the number of people attending optometrists and opticians in the UK each year has stayed virtually static for several years. This is despite a growing and increasingly elderly population both locally and nationally.
So why are patients not having regular eye examinations? A common misconception is that eye-care is expensive. It needn’t be so! Approximately eighty percent of the local population qualifies for an NHS funded eye examination. If you are under sixteen, over sixty, suffer from diabetes or glaucoma or you are on benefit you automatically qualify for an NHS examination. A full list of who qualifies for NHS care is on our web site.
Since the start of the year I have seen several patients who had not had an eye exam in over fifteen years. In three cases they had left it so long they had actually lost the sight in one eye and in one case in both eyes. What was particularly upsetting was in each case; if they had been having regular eye examinations they would have had the problem picked up much earlier and would probably not lost their sight. The moral of this sad story is simple. Have regular eye examinations every two years even if you feel your vision is OK.
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