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​Vision Van health initiative hits Swindon, revealing ONE THIRD have never had an eye test

Press Release   •   Sep 22, 2017 12:35 BST

Vision Express tackles town’s worsening eye health at the Wharf Green event

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 Swindon on Thursday (21st September) offering free eye tests to all - with one third of those who took advantage confessing they’d never had an eye test.

Swindon residents were given free 30-minute sight tests at the Van which spent the day at Wharf Green, after the town was identified as having a worsening outlook for eye health thanks to contributory lifestyle factors.

Of those tested one third were advised to seek medical attention from their GP and over 65% need vision correction. Nearly half (44%) were overdue an eye test*, with one person admitting their last sight check was over 25 years ago.

Swindon was selected as a pitstop on the Vision Van’s tour because of the town’s high population of people at risk of developing eye health conditions, due to smoking and poor diet.

Over a fifth, 22%, of adults in Swindon are smokers. Plus, a quarter of the local population eats less than two portions of fruits and vegetables per day and has a BMI over 30[1]. Statistics show people who smoke are at least three times more likely to develop sight conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, than non-smokers[2] and those eating a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables could avoid eye problems and some eye conditions that can eventually lead to permanent sight damage.

Jason Rich, 46, from Swindon took advantage of the free eye test offer and was advised to see his GP, after pigmentation was discovered on the back of his left eye.

“I really needed an eye test appointment but couldn’t get one and then I saw the Van. I thought I may need new glasses and had noticed bright lights were savage on my eyes,” Jason explains.

“It’s been about two years since my last test but I’ve never been aware of the pigmentation before so I’ll be sure to get it checked with my doctor. As I’ve had operations on my eyes in the past, I know how important it is to get them tested.”

Despite having an eye test just a year earlier in India, Akangsha Joneja, who was passing the Vision Van also popped in for a test. The 38-year-old who lives in Swindon, says: “During my check there was some high pressure identified in my eyes and I’ve been advised to go to my GP. Also, I have a prescription for reading glasses, otherwise my eyes are fine.”

Akangsha concludes: “Eyes are the most beautiful part of the body, without them we could not admire the beauty of the world. It’s better to go for an eye test on a regular basis.”

“We’re once again taking 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 can target areas where there is a worsening outlook for eye health and although we have visited Swindon in the past, we wanted to visit again and reiterate the importance of regular eye testing, particularly as we know that nutrition and smoking can impact sight.”

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[3], yet just over half of adults in the UK only visit an optician every five years, with 8% never having had a sight test..[4]

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.[5] 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[6], 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]Public Health Outcomes Framework – Proportion of the population meeting the recommended '5-a-day' on a 'usual day' (adults) (2015)

[2]2007: Arch Ophthalmol, Smoking and the long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration

[3]Vision Matters

[4]2014: Simplyhealth Quant Survey; Middle aged attitudes to Vision & Eye Tests

[5]2012: Bausch and Lomb. The global eye health barometer

[6]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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