The research found that while 91% of Australian adults have experienced a problem with their eyes, one in five people wouldn’t seek medical assistance for it. When asked why, almost 50% of respondents said it was either because they didn’t think there was anything wrong with their eye health or that they would rather wait for the problem to fix itself.
Specsavers Optometrist Simon Kelly, says the research highlights the ‘she’ll be right’ culture in Australia which can lead to serious eye problems not being detected until they are often irreparable. This is because early detection of most eye conditions can prevent vision loss and blindness.
“Most people are going to experience an eye problem like red eyes, itchy eyes, floaters or changes to vision in their lifetime and often there may be no larger problem associated with it. However, many common eye problems could also be early signs of more serious eye issues. For example, changes in vision could be the early signs of a sight-threatening condition such as macular degeneration; floaters or flashes of light could be symptoms of a retinal detachment; cloudy vision could be the early signs of a cataract and red eye could be caused by a serious corneal ulcer which if left untreated could lead to permanent vision loss,” says Simon.
The research broke the ‘she’ll be right’ culture into subcategories and found that millennials were the worst culprits, with almost 70% saying they wouldn’t seek any professional assistance because they didn’t think anything was wrong with their eyes or that they’d rather wait until their eyes fixed themselves.
Baby boomers were the most likely to seek professional help quickly, with 77% visiting an optometrist, doctor, pharmacist or hospital within a week for eye irritations or infections.
Simon says “Baby boomers look like they are setting the standard for what everyone should do when they have a problem with their eyes. Sometimes serious eye problems can progress quickly, so the best thing you can do when you experience a problem is to see an optometrist right away.”
Another key reason for not seeking medical assistance for an eye problem was the perceived cost of an appointment, with 25% of millennials, 24% of gen x and 14% of baby boomers saying that this kept them away from an optometrist.
However, Simon says if you’re experiencing any problems with your eyes, the best thing to do is book a bulk-billed eye health check with your local optometrist to check that your problem isn’t a sign of a more serious issue and to address the problem. The appointment is bulk-billed so there is no out of pocket cost for the patient.
“Most Australians don’t realise that eye problems like conjunctivitis, inflamed eyes and gritty eyes can be treated by optometrists who are therapeutically qualified. These optometrists can prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories and antiviral eye drops to assist with eye problems. By booking an eye health check, it means you can not only check the overall health of your eyes, but you may also walk away with a prescription to fix the problem.”
Common eye problems that an optometrist can treat:
- Dry eyes
- Teary or watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Problems seeing things in the distance or up close
- Uncomfortable eyes
- Gritty eyes
- Cloudy vision
[i]YouGov, Commissioned by Specsavers, June 2019
[ii]Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Population 2016