The right to sight

Increasing access to eye care and treatment

Ophthalmologist giving an eye exam

There are many givens that occur in our daily nine to five grind. However, what we see as mundane can be something that is rare or denied to others living in another part of the world.

Take eye care for example. In the UK, if you walk down most medium and large High Streets you will spot an optical practice. And as a member of the public, I could walk in and have my sight tested at any given time (appointment time dependant of course).

While a sight test is available to most of us with ease, many overlook it and don’t have their sight tested regularly – something that optometrists and organisations work hard locally and nationally to change.

Yet in other areas of the world, there is limited or no access to eye care. Or, where it is available, it is unaffordable.

This week, Essilor revealed that it has partnered with the Australian Government to broaden access to eye care for people living in Bangladesh. Together, the two organisations will establish an affordable vision care programme in the country that aims to give almost 100,000 people on low incomes access to eye care. 

Returning closer to home, I was also reminded this week that while access to eye care may seem simple, what comes after if a further diagnosis or treatment is required may not always be. 

Take a patient diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), for example, if their sight is above the legal standard for driving, they are not eligible to receive treatment because their sight is deemed “too good to treat.”

This looks set to change as NICE has published a new clinical guideline recommending that patients with wet AMD are treated before their vision falls below the legal driving standard – it states that those diagnosed with the condition be treated within 14 days of referral.

Image credit: Getty