The record number of older people in employment are being urged to make their eye health a priority as pension entitlement ages increase.
Official figures show that there are now more than 1.2 million Brits over the age of 65 working, with a further 500,000 expected to be in employment by 2030, as people continue to live longer and healthier lives. Despite this, over 65s are almost twice as likely to develop an eye health condition, such as glaucoma or cataracts, that could significantly hinder their ability to do their job effectively. Specsavers and sight loss charity, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), are campaigning to urge Britain’s ageing workforce to take their eye health seriously.
The importance of eye tests
With research showing that one in four people are not having an eye test every two years as recommended by the College of Optometrists, celebrity chef and Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers, 61, is backing the campaign ahead of National Eye Health Week (24-30 September) after discovering that he had a serious eye condition that could have had a huge impact on his career.
Dave says: ‘I was shocked when I found out that I’d developed glaucoma when I was just 51. Thankfully it was spotted during a routine eye test but if it had gone unnoticed, I could have gone blind, and that would have had a huge impact on how I do the job I love so much.
‘Like so many people, my career is my passion and it’s so hard to be able to imagine doing all the things I love to do if I couldn’t see, whether it’s riding my bike, reading an autocue or preparing ingredients. The thought that I could have lost my sight is really scary. As we get older lots of things need closer attention, not least our eyes.’
RNIB Interim CEO, Eliot Lyne, said: ‘With the right support, people with sight loss can continue working, and if you’re an employer, RNIB and other organisations can help you to properly support a member of staff who is losing their sight.
‘Advances in technology mean that blind and partially sighted people can now overcome many of the barriers to work that they have faced in the past, and government schemes, like Access to Work, mean that many of the costs can be met.’
A wealth of experience
The 3,500 optometrists at Specsavers have between them completed more than 10,000 postgraduate accreditations in detecting and monitoring glaucoma, cataract and other eye health conditions. To complement these skills, Specsavers and RNIB have also launched eye health training for Specsavers’ non-clinical teams, including optical assistants and frame stylists, to ensure that whoever a customer first sees in-store is sympathetic to their eye care needs.
To encourage more people to prioritise their eye health and to help support National Eye Health Week (24-30 September), Specsavers will be offering free eye tests in participating stores throughout September.
For more information on your nearest store or to book your free eye test visit www.specsavers.co.uk/stores
 Specsavers and RNIB State of the National Eye Health report 2017 with YouGov
 RNIB data. The older you are, the greater your chances of developing an eye condition that could threaten your sight. The rate of sight loss among people aged 65-69 is 87% higher compared to people aged 60-64 years; 200 cases per 100k population, compared to 107 cases.
 Office for National Statistics (2018) Employment rate 65 + People.
 Office for National Statistics (2018) UK labour market: June 2018.
 Office for Budget Responsibility (2014) Fiscal Sustainability Report: employment rates for 60 to 74-year-olds