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Vision Van health initiative hits Cardiff, revealing ONE QUARTER have never had an eye test

Press Release   •   Sep 26, 2017 12:08 BST

The Vision Van at St David’s Centre, Cardiff

As part of its UK-wide tour for National Eye Health Week (18-24 September 2017), Vision Express took its high-tech Vision Van to Cardiff on Friday (22nd September) offering free eye tests to all - with one quarter of those who took advantage confessing they’d never had an eye test.

Cardiff residents were given free 30-minute sight tests at the Van which spent the day at St David’s Centre, after the city was identified as having almost a fifth (18%)[1] of residents aged over 60, a significant risk group for AMD.

The most common form of sight loss in the UK, AMD currently affects more than 600,000 people in the UK and another 200 new cases are detected every day. In Cardiff alone, there are 11,980 cases of early AMD and 2,810 cases of late AMD, where sight has been affected[2].

Over a fifth (22%[3]) of adults in the Welsh capital are also smokers. Statistics show people who smoke are at least three times more likely to develop sight conditions, including AMD, than non-smokers[4].

Of those tested on the Van two thirds (66%) needed vision correction, while half were overdue an eye test*, with one person admitting their last sight check was over 30 years ago.

Joining the Cardiff leg of the tour was Adele Francis, an ambassador from sight loss charity the Macular Society. A charity partner of Vision Express’, the Macular Society raises awareness of macular degeneration and provides support and advice to those affected by the sight-stealing condition.

Talking to Van visitors about the symptoms to watch out for when it comes to macular degeneration Adele, a regional manager for South Wales, says: “Generally when you’re looking at something with straight lines, so lampposts, window-frames, door-frames; if they have a bend in them and they’re not straight anymore, that’s a sign that you really need to get your eyes checked and go to the opticians.

“It’s strange that it isn’t until we lose something that we realise how important it is. If there’s any signs of your eyes deteriorating, go to the opticians straight away and go regularly. It’s not until you get older that you realise how important that is.”

During the visit, the Macular Society encouraged the public to don specially-made glasses which distort central vision, in a bid to help people experience the real impact of the condition.

“We once again took our Vision Van on the road to help share the message of how important an eye test is in detecting sight defects, eye-related conditions and other health problems,” explains Vision Express CEO, Jonathan Lawson.

“By taking the eye test to the people, we have targeted areas where there is a worsening outlook for eye health and we felt Cardiff would be a perfect pitstop on our 2017 Vision Van tour, to promote the importance of regular eye testing to help determine issues including AMD.”

This is the fourth time Vision Express is touring its Vision Van for National Eye Health Week, highlighting the importance of regular eye testing for good sight and general wellbeing, in light of the findings that two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, half of which is preventable[5], yet just over half of adults in the UK only visit an optician every five years, with 8% never having had a sight test..[6]

Jonathan concludes: “We know that people fear blindness more than any other sense loss, with one survey finding that 76% of people would rather lose a limb than their sight.[7] And, we’re very aware that affordability is an issue for many, with 37% of people putting off having an eye test due to cost concern[8], so we want to help. That’s why anyone who can’t get to the Van while it’s on tour, can download a free eye test voucher from our website.”

Everyone across the UK can benefit from a free eye test by downloading an online voucher now until 30 September from the Vision Express website: The voucher can be redeemed until 31 October 2017 at any of approximately 400 Vision Express stores across the UK.

To find out more about National Eye Health Week visit: or to find your nearest Vision Express store and make an eye test appointment visit:

[1]Ask Cardiff, Key Statistics for Cardiff Local Authority

[2]NEHEM (2013) National Eye Health Epidemiological Model. Data and models by Public Health Action Support Team, published by Local Optical Committee Support Unit

[3]Public Health Outcomes Framework – smoking prevalence in adults – current smokers APS (2016)

[4]2007: Arch Ophthalmol, Smoking and the long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration

[5]Vision Matters

[6]2014: Simplyhealth Quant Survey; Middle aged attitudes to Vision & Eye Tests

[7]2012: Bausch and Lomb. The global eye health barometer

[8]2008: State of the Nations Eyes Study – The Eyecare Trust

About Vision Express

Vision Express is one of the largest optical retailers in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating in more than 40 countries, spanning over 6,500 stores and online.

With almost 400 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.

With around 4,500 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:

  • Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Macular Society
  • Stroke Association
  • Temple Street University Hospital
  • Brake

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