Oh dear – we are more interested in making our eyes look gorgeous than making sure they are healthy.

Now girls … surely not? Well yes.

A new report launched today by the charity think tank and consultancy NPC has found that, while visual impairment will affect around four million people by 2050, eye care services in the UK are stretched and people are not thinking about their eye health at all.

The reported spend on eye research in the UK is £30 million per year — equivalent to just £83 for each person registered as blind or partially sighted.

But the UK mascara market is worth a staggering £130 million per year.

In sight: a review of the visual impairment sector  finds that although the charity sector is increasingly collaborating and pushing for change, there is still a long way to go.

In sight found that older people can be discouraged from accessing sight tests by the commercial nature of optometry.

Often a high street optician is the first stop on the way to diagnosis and treatment, but many people see them as a business selling a product, rather than a healthcare service. Sight tests are free for people over 60, but less than half of those eligible take advantage of this, and fear of the cost of purchasing glasses is one of the key barriers to people accessing eye care, particularly for those with low incomes.

Dan Corry, Chief Executive of NPC, said: ‘”Across all of our research for this report, the case for more collaboration and working across charitable, public and commercial sectors, is compelling. Although partnerships are not always easy, in an area with as many different stakeholders as eye care, working together can create change.

‘The sector must work together to raise eye health as an immediate priority. It has implications for us all. The fear that we have of losing our sight should be reflected in the care that we take of our eyes. Yet despite this, many people have trouble making the leap from a fear of blindness to taking better care of their eyes.’

(1) The total annual funding of eye research (excluding that spent by industry) is estimated to be around £30 million.Charities account for about 20% of this figure, the Wellcome Trust for a further 20%, and government for the remainder.