The research from Specsavers also found that over one in five (23%) of parents with children between the ages of three and 16 in the South East hadn’t taken them for an eye test in the past two years or never have.
A third of those parents stated that they thought that their children were too young as at least one reason when asked to select from a list.
However, eye problems are often much easier to treat if detected while a child’s vision is still developing, usually up to about seven or eight years of age, the optician has said.
Sight loss costs the UK economy £28billion every year, according to a joint report between Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
The rise in the estimated figure from £22billion in 2009 has prompted a £3million multimedia public health awareness campaign launched by the groups to reduce preventable sight loss in the UK.
Although nearly half of all cases of sight loss in the UK could have been prevented, 14 million people in Britain are not having an eye test as recommended at least every two years, according to campaigners.
RNIB acting CEO Sally Harvey said: “An ageing population, rapidly growing demand for eye health and care services, and capacity problems in some clinics at a time of growing budget deficits, means that we are facing an extremely challenging time for eye health in the UK.
“Improving the nation’s eye health is an enormous challenge but we must rise to it and take action now to stop people needlessly losing their sight.
“Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street, followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions, could help to save sight as well as saving the public purse millions of pounds each year.”
Specsavers divisional chair for the South East, Matthew Trusty, said: “It’s astonishing that so many people are needlessly living with or at risk of sight loss in the UK today.
“Nearly half of all sight loss cases are preventable – and a simple eye test can be the first step in prevention.
“Our mission with RNIB is to transform the nation’s eye health through education, awareness and action; we want to reverse these worrying eye health trends that are putting unnecessary pressure on the health service.
“That’s why we have invested £3 million to educate people about the importance of looking after their eye health. Prevention is critical. We don’t care where people have an eye test, we just care that they do.”
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