National Eye Health Week launches habit-building campaign
The campaign is encouraging the public to ‘get back into the habit’ of routine and regular sight tests
18 September 2023
A new campaign has been launched as part of National Eye Health Week to encourage the public to ‘get back into the habit’ of booking regular sight tests.
Analysis of GOS data has suggested that 4.7 million NHS sight tests have been lost since the pandemic, the organisers shared.
Meanwhile, one in five people are concerned they would have to postpone or delay a sight test, citing worries over costs, according to data from the College of Optometrists.
David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK, the organisation behind the awareness week, said: “Prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of common eye conditions are key to reducing the number of people suffering sight loss unnecessarily. Half of sight loss could be avoided simply by ensuring we have our eyes checked regularly, not smoking, and keeping ourselves fit and well by eating a healthy balanced diet, staying active and wearing sun protection.”
Organisers of the campaign highlighted sight loss data from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which indicates that cases of late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are predicted to rise 25% by 2032, early-stage AMD (drusen) could rise 16%, cataracts could see a 25% increase, and glaucoma could see a 17% increase. Incidence of diabetic retinopathy could increase by 5%.
A map detailing the estimated future risk of the four most common causes of eye disease across areas of the UK has been created for National Eye Health Week, using statistical analysis of RNIB sight loss data.
Areas at the highest level of risk within England over the course of the next 10 years include: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset and parts of Derbyshire.
Within Greater London specifically, the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Newham, Richmond, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, and Westminster, were classed as most at risk.
In Northern Ireland, Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, and Down ranked high in the level of risk of future sight loss, while in Scotland, Midlothian was at the highest risk.
Health Minister, Neil O’Brien, highlighted that free NHS tests are available for eligible groups, while provision has also been made available for special school settings.
“During the past five years, the National Institute for Health Research has invested more than £100 million into research on eye conditions,” he continued.
The campaign website features a vision simulator to enable people to experience what it might be like to live with one of four causes of sight loss: AMD, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.
A suite of resources are available on the NEHW website for those looking to get involved.