Today marks the start of National Eye Health Week.
This is a week-long promotion to raise awareness and highlight the importance of looking after your vision and getting regular eye tests.
Lots of people missed eye examinations during the pandemic and treatment was delayed for many others. Optician chain Specsavers report that in the UK there were 4.3 million fewer eye tests carried out in 2020 compared to 2019.
With the many challenges healthcare providers faced and the understandable concerns people have had about attending clinics and appointments outside their home over the last 18 months, it’s more important than ever to get your eyes checked.
Eye examinations can pick up early signs of sight conditions, and in particular significant causes of sight loss, such as age related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
What you can do for National Eye Health Week
- Book a sight test if you haven’t had one in a while
- Book a sight test if you have concerns about your vision.
- Check in with your friends and relatives to see if they have had an eye test recently.
- Write social posts, or link to this article to encourage your contacts to book a sight test.
- Remind and encourage loved ones and colleagues to book in for an eye appointment.
- Help them with booking if needed, particularly elderly relatives who may struggle to access online booking information.
- Be aware of and don’t ignore ‘red flag’ eye symptoms such as:
- A curtain, veil or shadow in your vision
- Sudden sight loss or double vision
- Acute redness in one or both eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Severe eye pain
- Suddenly seeing lots of flashes or floaters (little dots or squiggles)
If you experience any of these, contact your local opticians, call NHS 111 or contact your local hospital eye emergency department.
Assistive tech for sight loss
If your vision is deteriorating, or you have lost your sight during the pandemic, please remember there is assistive technology available to help you read, communicate and live independently. So you can still do your job effectively and study in line with the rest of your class.
Speak to our team to find out more at 01905 754 577 or email info@YourDolphin.com
Further Information and FAQs on Sight Loss
Who has sight loss? Some current statistics
- Women make up almost two-thirds of people with sight loss.
- People from minority ethnic communities are at greater risk of some of the leading causes of sight loss, such as diabetes.
- Elderly people are increasingly likely to experience sight loss. 20% of people age 75+ and over are living with sight loss and this moves up to 50% of people age 90+
- Adults with learning disabilities are ten times more likely to be blind or partially sighted than the general population.
How much does an eye test cost?
In the UK, the price of an eye test varies, but is usually £20 - £25
If you’re eligible for a free NHS eye test, you won’t have to pay.
The cost of your eye test may be covered by your employer, so do check with them to ask about any schemes they may have to refund or pay for your eye test.
Can I get a free eye test?
If you live in Scotland, all eye tests at NHS opticians are free of charge. Visit gov.scot for details.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, eye tests are free on the NHS for eligible people. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Children under 16
- Young people age 16, 17 or 18 who are in full time education
- People over 60
- People who receive certain benefits such as income support, universal credit
- People who are registered partially sighted or blind
- People with diabetes or glaucoma
- People at risk of developing glaucoma (including people age 40+ whose parents, sibling or child has been diagnosed with glaucoma)
- You qualify for an NHS complex lens voucher
- Prisoners on leave from prison
Please note, if you pay for a private sight test, you may not be eligible for a free NHS sight test until your next test is due, usually 2 years later.
What is an NHS optical voucher?
This voucher entitles you to aid towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you meet certain criteria. This includes children under 16, young people in full-time education, prisoners on leave from prison, people who are eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher and people claiming certain benefits.
Do employers pay for eye tests?
Under Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations, if you regularly work with display screen equipment such as computer screens, laptops, tablets or smartphones, you are entitled to ask your employer to pay for annual eye tests or eye exams.
Usually, you will pay for your eye test and claim the full amount back from your employer.
Some employers will also provide some support for the cost of glasses, so check with your employer to find out what they offer.
How often should I get my eyes tested?
It’s recommended that most people should have their eyes examined every two years.
You may be advised to have an eye test more regularly if you have diabetes, are a child who wears glasses, you have a family history of glaucoma or you’re aged 70+
Where can I get my eyes tested?
There are many opticians and optometrists to choose from, and these are easy to reach locally.
There are many independent opticians on local high streets, as well as larger chains which have local branches and often have concessions at larger supermarkets or pharmacies.
How Assistive Technology helps people with sight loss
If you have been affected by the delays to eye tests due to the pandemic, and you’re experiencing sight deterioration or sight loss, please be reassured that there is assistive technology which can help you maintain your independence, communicate, read, work and study.
Dolphin developed GuideConnect for people with sight loss who have little technical experience.
GuideConnect can be used on desktop and laptop computers, tablets and also through the users TV - operated with a Dolphin remote control. GuideConnect can be adapted as sight changes and it provides access to communication such as video calling and email; entertainment such as radio and podcasts, websites and audio book libraries. Plus, it provides the ability to scan and read aloud paper documents and letters, so independence and privacy can be maintained.
Dolphin Computer Access provides a range of software called SuperNova that works on Desktop PC, Laptops and computer tablets. This assistive technology helps users do their job, and helps students with visual impairments study better.
SuperNova Magnifier, SuperNova Magnifier & Speech and SuperNova Magnifier & Screen Reader
SuperNova Magnifier magnifies on-screen content and also enables you to customise the contrast and colours on-screen, so they are more comfortable for you to view.
SuperNova Magnifier & Speech does the same as SuperNova Magnifier, with additional functionality which means you can also listen to an audio version of the text displayed on screen. It also supports Braille displays.
SuperNova Magnifier & Screen Reader gives you everything included in SuperNova Magnifier and SuperNova Magnifier & Speech, plus it speak aloud other non-text information. This includes punctuation, formatting such as headings, bold type and changes to information displayed, such as whether a check box is ticked on a form.
SuperNova Connect & Learn is a package for students that enables you to learn independently in class and at home. This includes SuperNova screen magnification and screen reading software, plus a digital video magnifier, accessible book reader and a tablet device with keyboard. SuperNova Connect & Learn also provides access to the classroom whiteboard - with Whiteboard Wizard - so you can view a version of the whiteboard contents on your screen, and magnify or listen to the information displayed.
If you take a lot of pleasure in reading, or you’re required to read long documents for work or for study, you may benefit from the free Dolphin EasyReader App. Available in your preferred app store, you can download EasyReader on smartphone, tablet, or use it on your computer with SuperNova.
EasyReader provides access to the world’s largest collection of accessible book libraries and talking newspaper and magazines. Including Bookshare, Calibre Audio and the textbook library RNIB Bookshare.
With EasyReader you can adjust the magnification of text and customise the colour schemes and font displays to make reading more comfortable. You can also read books using the text to speech audio functions when reading visually isn’t practical or comfortable.
Find out more about the full range of Dolphin assistive technology at YourDolphin.com