Optegra highlights cost of living concerns

A survey by the ophthalmic service provider indicated the effects of financial concerns on patients delaying eye examinations

KY Optegra
Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

A survey commissioned by Optegra, the eye hospital group, has revealed the effect that financial concerns are having on patients when it comes to seeking eye care.

Insight from 100 British optometrists found that on average, those surveyed estimate 65% of their patients are avoiding essential eye tests due to the cost of living crisis, and 43% feel patients are putting sight at risk as a direct result.

The survey found that 40% believe this is leading to people driving without the legal visual requirements and resulting in older people losing their independence.

Exploring the reasons that might be causing patients to skip appointments, a quarter of optometrists in the survey (26%) reported the main reason patients missed regular eye health checks was that they couldn’t afford the test due to the high cost of living.

Half (49%) of those surveyed said patients are voicing concerns over the cost of contact lenses and new spectacles.

Nearly half of optometrists surveyed said that, since the pandemic, they are seeing more patients whose employers are helping to cover the costs of treatment.

Optegra highlighted the role that eye tests play in detecting serious health conditions, reporting that 30% of those surveyed said that over the past 12 months the number of patients they have seen with vision problems resulting from broader health conditions has increased.

Optegra reported that 73% of survey respondents felt eye tests should be government-funded and free for all, “to help protect the nation’s eye health.”

Worries around catching COVID-19 continue to be a factor preventing some from attending regular eye tests, the survey indicated.

Amir Hamid, medical director at Optegra, said: “There are huge financial pressures on British people at the moment, but it is concerning that eye health may suffer as a result.”

Optegra also found that over half of optometrists surveyed shared concerns about keeping their practice open, and 29% said they are making changes to how they run their practice to adapt to economic changes. 48% said they are concerned about the cost of essential materials.

Highlighting concerns around cost of living and the costs facing businesses, Hamid said: “This is why we are working with many optometrists across the country to provide speedy free NHS cataract care, so patients can access treatment without unnecessary delay.”