Specsavers Eye Health Report finds 68% of Gen X put off having an eye test – with serious risks

The new Specsavers Eye Health Report, released in the lead up to World Glaucoma Week (6-12 March), has revealed that 68%1 of Gen X, classed as those born between 1965 and 1980, are likely to put off having an eye test, putting them at risk of missing the early signs of diseases such as glaucoma, which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.

The risk of developing glaucoma increases with age, and people aged 40+ have a higher chance of contracting the disease. Given the low number of Gen X’ers taking the time to have an eye test, the generation is in danger of developing bad eye health habits that could put their eye sight at risk. Worryingly, more than half (56%)1 of Australians are likely to put off having an eye test, and one in two people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed. The research however did reveal that Baby Boomers are the most proactive generation when it comes to eye health, with 64% likely to prioritise having an eye test1.

Glaucoma has few symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced stage and if left too late, vision cannot be restored. Regular eye tests are the best form of prevention as detecting glaucoma early means action can be taken to prevent significant loss of vision or even blindness.

Glaucoma symptoms (late stage):
  • Painless blurred vision
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Difficulty in adjusting to low light
Factors that increase risk of glaucoma:
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Migraines
  • Short sightedness
  • Previous eye injury
  • High blood pressure
  • Prolonged use of cortisone creams
  • Some ethnic groups
  • Age 40 +

This year, Specsavers is working with Glaucoma Australia to raise awareness for World Glaucoma Week, and is urging Australians to make their eye health a priority by booking an eye test at their nearest Specsavers store. Specsavers is also encouraging Australians to talk about the condition with family, as glaucoma is commonly a hereditary disease with first relatives of people with glaucoma being ten times more likely to develop the disease2.

Peter Larsen, Optometrist and Professional Services Director at Specsavers, says, “Specsavers is supporting Glaucoma Australia on their quest to raise awareness of glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and is urging Australians to have their eyes tested this World Glaucoma Week. It is alarming that so many members of Gen X are not aware of the importance of regular eye tests, especially as they reach a high risk age group.

“We recommend having eye tests every two years and at Specsavers we offer comprehensive eye tests at stores nationwide, which include free Digital Retinal Photography, a simple procedure that helps to detect and mange potential sight threatening diseases such as glaucoma.”

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection can slow down the degeneration of eyesight, and treatment such as surgery and eye drops can be used to prevent further blindness. Irreparable damage to the optical nerve is often caused when aqueous fluid in the eye, which helps the eye keep its shape, is unable to drain properly, causing a blockage and additional pressure in the eye.

1Galaxy Research, November 2015

2Glaucoma Australia

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