The number of NHS sight tests performed across the UK for a 12-month period ending 31 March 2014 rose by 3.6%, according to a new Optics at a Glance report published last week. In total 16.027 million eye examinations were carried out, compared to 15.47 million for the 2012–13 period.
However, while sight tests increased overall during the specified period, the number of eye examinations being performed in Wales decreased by 1.2%.
In terms of domiciliary sight tests, they rose in both England and Wales by 5.2% and 10.2% respectively during the 2013–14 period, yet decreased by 8.3% in Northern Ireland.
The Optics at a Glance publication was released by the Optical Confederation (OC), of which the AOP is a founding member. It is compiled from government data for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as information gathered through a survey with members of the OC. It contains key information on optometry, opticians and the optical market.
Releasing statistics for both the 2012–13 and 2013–14 period simultaneously, while a rise in the number of NHS sight tests being performed rose for two years consecutively, the data show a much smaller rise in 2012–13 at 0.32%.
This documents a NHS sight test rise from 15.42 million in 2011–12 to 15.47 million in 2012–13.
In terms of referrals, year-on-year data showed an increase in GP or hospital referrals from 2.9% in 2012–13 to 3.6% in 2013–14. A slight increase was also documented in the average charge for a private sight test, rising from £25.18 in 2012–13 to £26 in 2013–14.
No change was documented on the percentage of optical practices across the UK which stock a range of spectacles within the specified voucher values, which remained at 93.3%, nor to the annual average contact lens care fee, which stayed at £42.53.
The report confirmed that, according to the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers, the percentage of contact lens wearers in the UK remained at 9%.