Five million

Using private eye examination data and GOS statistics, Eye Health UK has estimated that five million routine appointments were missed during lockdown

woman at window

As well as a general message conveying the importance of eye health, a specific and startling statistic was revealed as part of National Eye Health Week (21-27 September).

Eye Health UK estimated that five million routine sight tests had been missed over lockdown using private eye examination data and GOS statistics.

Now that lockdown has eased, optometrists across the UK are working to ensure that patients receive the eye care they need, and potentially sight-threatening eye conditions are picked up before irreversible damage is done.

OT has heard anecdotally that higher than normal levels of pathology are being picked up in community practice.

West Midlands optometrist Steve Wright told OT that he saw four patients with suspected wet-AMD in the first week after restrictions eased – the same number he would normally see in a year of practice.

During National Eye Health Week, I spoke with optometrist Bob Wilkes, who has seen an increase in patients presenting to his Rainhill practice with advanced cataracts.
Optometrists are endeavouring to get patients back to practice at a time when the national COVID-19 alert level has shifted from three to four – meaning that transmission of COVID-19 is now high or rising exponentially.

If you have questions about what this shift means for optics, then the AOP’s guidance for members in England is a good place to start.

The AOP advises that routine appointments can continue to be carried out at this time as long as the appropriate infection control measures are in place.

As always, we are keen to hear your views and experiences. How has the shift in alert levels affected your practice? How has your High Street changed compared to before the pandemic? Please email [email protected]

OT  asks...

How do your patient appointment levels at present compare to levels pre-pandemic?
  • 25% or less of what they were before COVID-19

    1 0%
  • 51% - 75%

    27 22%
  • 76% - 90%

    17 14%
  • 26% - 50%

    12 10%
  • Higher than before the pandemic

    50 41%
  • Back to normal

    13 10%