Objective: To determine the current eyecare behaviour of dentists and compare this against published standards concerning frequency of sight test intervals and eye protection.
Subjects and methods: Four hundred dentists were selected at random for inclusion in the study from the UK 2004 Dentists Register. They were invited to complete a questionnaire that ascertained their gender and age, current eyesight status and method of correction, elapsed time interval since their last eyesight test and reason for attendance. In addition, the use and power of magnification was sought along with the adoption of protective eyewear. Responses were coded and placed in a relational database to facilitate interrogation and subsequent statistical analysis.
Results: The questionnaire return rate was 63% (247 and allowing for the seven questionnaires returned marked unknown at this address). Of these 158 were males and 81 female. The majority worked in general dental practice. Those with known eyesight deficiencies were statistically more likely (p < 0.01) to attend for routine eye examination. Sixteen percent of respondents failed to attend for routine eye examination at least every two years. The mean age of those who had detected a change in their eyesight and sought examination was 43.59 (SD = 10.57) for males and 39.07 years (SD = 9.41) for females. This mirrored closely the mean age when the use of magnification was adopted (males = 42.39 (10.30), females = 40.33 (10.55)). The use of magnification was not universally adopted. Eye protection compliance was a low as 57% when using laboratory cutting equipment.
Conclusions: Although compliance with accepted recommendations for biannual eyesight testing was higher than that for the general population, not all dentists complied. The adoption of protective eyewear was patchy and exposed dentists to unnecessary risk.