Eye care practitioners have identified a number of factors leading to increased prevalence of eye problems in a study conducted by Spectrum Thea.

The maker of dry eye products’ research, released this week, found two thirds of optometrists saw an increase in conditions including dry eye and blepharitis. Around half were concerned people would start losing their sight or suffering from degenerative conditions such as cataract and AMD at a younger age.

It was believed by 63 per cent of respondents that the increased use of screens was one of the major factors in the deterioration of the nation’s eye health, with most optometrists also citing increasing prevalence of diabetes, poor diets, smoking and not wearing sunglasses.

Ninety per cent said they did not think people took their eye health seriously.

Saj Ataullah, consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, said: ‘Modern lifestyles appear to be having a detrimental impact on our eyes, but there is clearly a big gap between the reality of what is happening and the general public’s attitudes to their own eye health.

‘In my own clinic I am already seeing younger patients with common conditions such as blepharitis and dry eye. These chronic conditions cannot be cured but can usually be very effectively managed if patients seek advice from eye specialists.  If left undiagnosed or untreated these conditions can cause frequent irritation, grittiness, eyelid cysts and eye infections.

‘It is essential that people are having their conditions diagnosed correctly in the first instance with regular eye health checks and are getting the right treatment plan with preservative-free lubricants and lid hygiene products.’

Further consumer research by Spectrum Thea also showed one in 10 people would only have an eye test if they were experiencing problems,  and around 45 per cent would not get their eyes tested if they were struggling to read road signs.

Asked where they would go for treatment advice if they experienced symptoms of an eye infection, almost two thirds of respondents said a doctor while 20 per cent said an optician or optometrist.

Spectrum Thea’s research included 100 optometrists and 2,000 members of the public.