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Boots Opticians champions role of eye health checks in helping to detect serious health conditions among under 40s, with digital retinal photography for all

29 August 2014
News Healthcare
Boots Opticians is encouraging people to open their eyes to the importance of a regular eye health checks to help detect some serious health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These serious conditions can be detected early by examining the tissue and blood vessels at the back of the eyes. To help people feel in control of their health, Boots Opticians is the only national high street optician chain to offer digital retinal photography with every single eye health check, at no extra cost.
 
A digital retinal photograph provides a unique picture of the back of the eye, creating a permanent record of your eye health so any changes to eye health can be easily identified and monitored over time. Traditionally it is only offered to those at risk of a specific condition or who are over a certain age. 
 
However, with diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes in the under 40 population rising sharply over the last 20 years,[i] and conditions such as high blood pressure remaining undiagnosed in up to 5 million people across the UK,[ii] this National Eye Health Week (22 – 28 September 2014), Boots Opticians is championing the right of every individual, whatever their age, to have a digital retinal photograph as part of their eye health check, to help detect these serious health conditions.
 
The move by Boots Opticians to offer digital retinal photography as part of a standard eye check and at no extra cost, is supported by new research from Boots Opticians, which shows that more than three-quarters (76%) of Boots Optometrists have referred a patient on to their GP for further consultation following an eye health check and digital retinal photograph., and a massive 86% have found their early intervention and diagnosis has helped prevent a more serious health condition or outcome.[iii]
 
Professor Peter Scanlon, Clinical Director, NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme says: “It is important for everyone to have a regular eye check. Digital retinal photographs are a helpful addition to the traditional eye examination as this can help to identify changes in the retina, for example, changes in the shape of blood vessels, which could indicate high blood pressure. In addition, it can also help to detect signs of serious eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma which can lead to vision loss, as well as identifying potential tumours or haemorrhage.”
 
Victoria O’Connor, Boots Optometrist says: “Just like other parts of our bodies, our eyes change, so taking steps to look after our eyes and tracking eye health over time, is vital. There are lots of myths about eye health and although more than three-quarters (78%) of people consider sight to be their most precious sense,[iv] only two-thirds (61%) actually have their eyes checked regularly.[v] It is important to remember that regular eye checks are not just about looking after your eye sight – your eyes can help to tell us lots about your general health and wellbeing, so getting them checked regularly should be a priority.”
 
Tracy Kelly, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, comments: “All people should take a proactive approach to have an eye health check.  As well as picking up early stages of eye disease such as glaucoma and cataracts (which are more common in people with diabetes) retinal screening can in some cases pick up undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes due to changes in the back of the eye.  The patient can then be referred to the doctor for a diagnosis.  Diabetes UK is already working with Boots pharmacy to help people assess their risk of having Type 2 diabetes and is pleased to see Boots Opticians taking a similar preventive approach to eye health.”

Francesca Marchetti of National Eye Health Week said: “This National Eye Health Week, we want to remind people of the simple steps that can help to maintain good eye health and eye sight, including making time to have their eyes checked regularly. Your vision changes over time so it is recommended that you have your eyes checked every two years, unless advised otherwise by your optometrist to help maintain good eyesight and good eye health.”

To book an eye health check, speak to your Boots Optician or make an appointment by calling 0345 125 3752 or visitwww.boots.com/en/Opticians/Eye-Health.
 
- Ends -
 
5 common myths about eye health:
Eye Myth #1: Square eyes
Sit as close to the TV as you want – it can’t damage your eyes. However, it could be a sign that a visit to the optician’s is overdue
Myth #2: Reading in the dark 
It won’t damage your eyes, but your eyes need light to see clearly, so reading for long periods when the light’s not so good may make the eyes feel more tired.
Myth #3: Carrots, carrots, carrots 
Eating carrots can’t make you see in the dark – however many you eat. However, carrots and other leafy green vegetables contain a large amount of vitamin A, which is great for protecting the surface of the eye (cornea).
Myth #4: 20/20 vision 
Having 20/20 vision doesn’t mean that you have perfect vision only that you can see detail well. Other factors such as peripheral awareness, eye co-ordination, colour vision, focusing ability and depth perception play a big role in how well you can see.
Myth #5: Eye exercises 
No amount of eye aerobics will repair near or farsightedness.


 

[i] C. Currie et al. The incidence of type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom from 1991 to 2010. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 15: 9: 844–852, September 2013
[ii] British Heart Foundation. Blood Pressure. Access Via http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/high-blood-pressure.aspx Last accessed August 2014
[iii] Online research conducted among 53 Boots Opticians Colleagues in August 2014
[iv] Online research conducted among 2,000 UK adults. The research took place between 23.08.2013 and 27.08.2013.
[v] Online research conducted among 2,000 UK adults. The research took place between 20.12.11 and 23.12.11.

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