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News, Research

Laid-back attitude harming Australians’ vision

07/08/2019By Callum Glennen
New research has found that Australians are hesitant to seek treatment for eye problems, and instead prefer to ignore symptoms or wait for issues to rectify themselves.

A significant number of Australians also prioritise visiting a doctor over their optometrist for many common eye problems.

According to a June 2019 YouGov survey commission by Specsavers, 91% of Australian adults have experienced a problem with their eyes, with common issues ranging from conjunctivitis and inflamed eye, to cloudy and deteriorating vision.

Despite this, one in five stated they would not seek medical assistance for the problem, with almost half saying they either didn’t think there was anything wrong with their eyes or that they would rather wait for the issue to fix itself.

Simon Kelly
Simon Kelly
“Most people don’t realise that eye problems like conjunctivitis, inflamed eyes and gritty eyes can be treated by optometrists who are therapeutically qualified”
Simon Kelly, Specsavers

Mr Simon Kelly, Specsavers optometrist at Runaway Bay, Queensland, said the research shows the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude in Australia can lead to serious eye conditions not being detected.

“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,” Kelly said.

“However, many common eye problems could also be early signs of more serious eye issues.”

Responses to vision and eye issues differed among generations. Baby boomers were the most vigilant, with 77% visiting an optometrist, doctor, pharmacist or hospital for eye irritations or infections within a week of the symptoms appearing.

At the other end of the scale, almost 70% of millennials said they would not seek any professional assistance for common problems.

The report highlighted cost as another key reason for Australians not seeking medical assistance. According to the research, 25% of millennials, 24% of Generation X and 14% of baby boomers avoided an optometrist due to the perceived cost of treatment.

Findings also pointed towards a lack of understanding as to what conditions optometrists can treat. For visual problems like blurry or cloudy vision patients were most likely to go to their optometrist, but for issues like inflamed eye, eye sty and conjunctivitis they were more likely to see their doctor.

“Most people don’t realise that eye problems like conjunctivitis, inflamed eyes and gritty eyes can be treated by optometrists who are therapeutically qualified,” Kelly said.

The research was commissioned by Specsavers in order to increase awareness of these issues and encourage more Australians to book an appointment with their optometrist.


More reading:

Specsavers report highlights Australia's $16.6 billion major eye health problem
Survey: Australians lack awareness of UV risk to eye health

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