There has been a 1.1% decrease in the number of General Ophthalmic Service (GOS) sight tests paid for by the NHS in Wales during 2014–15 when compared to the previous year, a report from the Welsh government have revealed.
The eye care statistics, which were released today (16 June), show that a total of 750,244 sight tests were paid for by the NHS during this period.
Optometry Wales credits the decrease in GOS sight tests to an increased use of the Wales Eye Care Service (WECS), which during the same year, performed 123,697 sight examinations, up from 96,487 the previous year.
CEO at Optometry Wales, Sali Davis, told OT: “Whilst we acknowledge that the decline in the number of GOS sight tests means that the Wales Eye Care Service (WECS) is being fully utilised, we must not forget that WECS as a public service is not enshrined in legislation.
“Optometry Wales continues to work with the Welsh Government to seek to guarantee the funding behind this essential and ground-breaking service. The WECS budget has not been increased in two years and we must ensure that we continue to lobby for at least inflationary increases.”
The report further reveals that there were 776 practitioners carrying out sight tests paid for by the NHS at 31 December 2014, which is just five fewer than the previous year. However, it shows a 15.5% increase since 31 December 2004.
Of the 119,623 patients screened by the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service Wales in 2014–15, 28.7% were found to have diabetic retinopathy. These figures show an increase in the number of people being screened when compared to the previous year of 115,344 people.
Regarding hospital eye services, the statistics reveal a total of 329,692 attendances to ophthalmology outpatient appointments in Welsh hospitals in 2013-14. Furthermore, Health Boards received 45,391 GP referrals for ophthalmology in 2014-15.
On low vision, statistics show that 7,790 assessments were carried out by Low Vision Service Wales in 2014–15; 553 more than in 2013-14. On low vision, statistics show that 7,790 assessments were carried out by Low Vision Service Wales in 2014–15; 553 more than in 2013-14.
Almost 17,000 people in Wales were registered with a visual impairment, with around half registered as severely sight impaired and half as sight impaired, as of 31 March 2014. In 2013–14, 1,302 people were newly certified as sight impaired, with more than 50% of them aged 80 or over.