Atlas of Variation provides insight on eye health in the UK

Cataract surgery, sight loss outcomes and diabetic eye screening are among topics covered in the Public Health England publication

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Public Health England (PHE) has published key statistics on eye health in the UK, from cataract surgery and sight loss outcomes to diabetic eye screening and intravitreal injections.

The Atlas of variation in risk factors and healthcare for vision in England includes insight on which populations are at risk of poor eye health.

It is the first health intelligence output from PHE that is solely focused on eye health.

The Atlas of variation reveals that there were nine million outpatient attendances for vision in 2019/2020, while provisional data shows a significant reduction in the number of hospital attendances and procedures in 2020/2021.

Following the pandemic, the atlas shows that outpatient appointments fell by 29%, with 2.7 million fewer attendances than the previous year.

An introduction to the Atlas of variation highlights that around two million people in the UK live with some form of sight loss, and this is expected to reach 2.7 million by 2030.

“Increasing numbers of people experiencing sight loss are due to an ageing population and an increase in the prevalence of conditions associated with poorer eye health such as diabetes and obesity,” the authors note.

They add that one of the key aims of the Atlas of variation series within healthcare is to highlight geographical variation and differentiate between warranted and unwarranted variation.

Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, Parul Desai, shared that the publication should not be seen as a one-off but as a starting point for local discussion and action.

“Practical options for action are proposed that could make meaningful differences to patients, and the quality, accessibility and consistency of care provided by eye health services – now and in the longer term,” she said.