HEALTH: Eye test cost puts over-60s at risk of blindness

More than half a million people aged 60 and over risk losing their sight because they cannot afford eye tests, according to a report from the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

In addition, it revealed there was widespread confusion over who qualified for exemptions to eye test charges, and said this was putting people off making appointments. Two out of five people who were exempt from eye test fees thought they had to pay.

As a result, potentially blinding eye conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, which can be treated if spotted early, were going undiagnosed. More than a quarter of all people aged 60 or over have not had an eye test in the last two years, the minimum recommended period for that age group. The RNIB called for free eye tests for everyone aged 60 and over, and other high risk groups.

Losing Sight of Blindness, pounds 5, RNIB Customer Services. Tel: 0345 023153.