Over 50% of sight loss can be prevented – don’t delay getting your eyes tested


As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding everyone of the need to get their eyes tested, emphasising the importance of good eye health and the steps to follow to help protect your vision.  

Dr Jackie McCall, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “Over 50% of sight loss is preventable, so ensuring that we all have regular eye examinations will help prevent, or limit, the damage caused by certain eye conditions.

“We should all aim to get our eyes tested every two years; regular sight checks are important for two reasons. Firstly, having your vision corrected can improve the quality of day-to-day life, and secondly, regular sight tests can mean early detection of conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, which could lead to sight loss. In addition, evidence points to poor vision as a risk factor for falls.”

Other key steps you can take to maintain good eye health include:

•             Quit smoking – for outlined guidance and support visit www.stopsmokingni.info

•             Protect your eyes in bright sunlight and/or glare

•             Eat healthily and exercise regularly – for help and advice visit www.choosetolivebetter.com

•             Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes while doing DIY, sporting activities and/or in the workplace if required

•             Take regular and short breaks if working at a computer screen 

Dr McCall continued: “If you do notice a change to your sight, never dismiss it as ‘just part of getting older’ – visit your local optometrist without delay. Regular eye examinations should form part of everyone’s health routine, after all, looking after your eye health is just as important as looking after the rest of your body.”

Eye examinations are free for many individuals. For information regarding eligibility for a free NHS eye test, please visit www.pha.site/sight-test.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB)  commissions NHS eye examinations from over 270 easily-accessible registered optometry practices in Northern Ireland.

Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services at HSCB, commented: “The Health and Social Care Board fully supports this advice from the PHA. Regular sight tests are an effective way of monitoring your eye health and they are free for many people.”