A VISION Express van offering free eye tests for Swindonians parked up in Wharf Green yesterday.

A professional optometrist was on hand to give a full 30-minute eye test to 14 visitors, while 60 more received vouchers for a free test which they could redeem at any branch of the opticians.

The van has been touring around the country all week as part of National Eye Health Week, an initiative kick-started by the Vision Matters charity which works with sponsors like Vision Express to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye tests.

Optometrist Zaira Ayub said: "It's like an eye MOT. You only get one pair of eyes so it's important to make sure there are no diseases or nerve problems.

"Prevention is easier than a cure, so diagnosing conditions early is crucial.

"For example, with glaucoma, you gradually lose your vision and once it's gone, there's no way to restore it.

"There can be subtle changes in the condition of your eyes over time which can only be noticed if people have regular tests."

The vouchers for free eye tests are valid until the end of October and can also be downloaded from the opticians' website.

Anyone can walk into their local branch and get a free eye test without needing a voucher until Wednesday September 27.

It is recommended that everyone get an eye test at least once every two years.

Amy Shelton from Vision Express said: "We've had five people in today who have never had an eye test in their life and one gentleman who hasn't had one for 25 years.

"Lots of people think these tests are just about seeing if they need glasses, but there's so much more to it than that.

"There's a health screening where they take a picture of the back of your eyes and this can show high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions.

"We want to encourage people to make it part of their health routine."

For more information, visit visionexpress.com