ALMOST a quarter of adults in the North-East believe no diseases can be spotted during eye exams – potentially putting their health at risk.

The survey of North-East adults was commissioned by retinal imaging technology experts, Optos. It revealed that more than one in eight (83 per cent) of people in the region considered their eye health as very important to them.

Despite caring about the health of their eyes, 135,520 have never had their eyes tested. The pandemic has also prevented more than two-fifths (44 per cent) from attending appointments.

More than half (58 per cent) of those surveyed said it was because they worried about how safe it was to attend, while 21 per cent said there were no appointments available and 24 per cent were shielding or self-isolating.

Gareth Steer, VP of European Sales at Optos said: “Over the past year, we’ve all been spending more time at home and in front of screens. From working at a laptop or sitting watching TV, there are increasing concerns around eye health and a rise in cases of eye strain.

“Sight loss prevention charity, Fight for Sight, recently found that more than a third of people felt their eyesight had worsened since the start of the pandemic.

“We want people across the North-East to know that opticians using advanced retinal imaging technology are able to carry out their appointments in a safe way and will be able to identify any potential problems early, reducing the risk of eye disease and protecting eyesight.”

People across the region do see the value in having the best eye exam possible and value expert advice. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) state that they want the reassurance that potential issues are found early.

Opticians were considered the number one authority on eye health. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said that they always follow the advice of their optician, above GPs (58 per cent), nurses (44 per cent) and pharmacists (37 per cent).

Six in 10 (63 per cent) said they would pay more for an eye exam that uses more advanced imaging technology because their eye health is so important to them.

Despite this, almost half (45 per cent) do not realise signs of diabetes are visible in a retinal eye exam, 49 per cent do not realise certain cancers can be detected, while 24 per cent don’t believe any eye diseases can be found in a retinal eye exam at all.

Mr Steer added: “Getting your eyes tested is crucial but while the NHS sight test does perform an internal and external assessment, digital imaging isn’t always used.

“Advanced imaging technology is proven to support opticians in spotting potentially vision and life-altering issues early. This includes diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and detached retinas.

“A big part of this is education. We need to be more aware of the importance of eye care and attending eye appointments, even if you don’t think you have any issues. Advanced retinal imaging technology means opticians can carry out a very detailed exam quickly and from a safe distance.

“At Optos, we’re doing all we can to help raise awareness around the benefits of regular eye care examinations.

“The survey clearly shows that eye health is very important to people across the North-East so it’s essential we all make our vision a priority and ensure we find problems and treat them early.”