Q&A: Westminster Eye Health Day

AOP policy director, Carolyn Ruston, on an upcoming parliamentary event that aims to raise the profile of eye care

Houses of Parliament and bridge
Pixabay/Adam Derewecki

The Eyes Have It is a partnership of Macular Society, Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation, RNIB, Association of Optometrists, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and Roche. Roche has funded the activities of the partnership.



A partnership between leading eye care bodies will raise the profile of the sector within parliament on Wednesday (19 October).

OT approached AOP policy director, Carolyn Ruston, to find out more about Westminster Eye Health Day.

Can you share plans for the event?

Westminster Eye Health Day is on 19 October. The event is being hosted by The Eyes Have It partnership and is an event in Parliament to raise the profile and importance of good eye health and eye research to government.

In the lead up to and during the event there is an interactive awareness campaign at both Westminster and Old Street tube stations that not only highlights the importance of good eye health to prevent sight loss but the economic impact sight loss conditions have on our society. The campaign also demonstrates the role optometrists have to play in identifying and preventing other conditions diagnosed through the eyes such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and some cancers – some of the biggest challenges facing our NHS.

Old street station poster
An interactive awareness campaign showcasing the importance of eye health has been launched at Westminster and Old Street tube stations.

The campaign also challenges MPs through an interactive quiz to identify an MP through an image of their eyes alone, which have been ‘blurred’ or changed to show how people with some sight conditions see the world around them.

What is The Eyes Have It partnership?

The Eyes Have It is a really exciting and innovative partnership between the leading bodies in eye care spanning optometry (Association of Optometrists) ophthalmology (the Royal College of Ophthalmology), support charities (Macular Society and RNIB) as well as the leading eye research charity (Fight for Sight).

Funded and hosted by Roche Ltd, we collectively engage with and lobby government, the NHS and other senior stakeholders to raise the profile and drive policy change in the eye health and sight loss space.

What has been achieved through the partnership so far?

Through The Eyes Have It we have already realised significant success, most notably the development of a joint policy commitment between the partners with a key set of priorities to collectively take forward to improve the outcomes of patients with existing sight loss but also more generally in preventing eye disease and sight loss across the wider population.

We actively campaigned for a national clinical director for eye care and are delighted that this was successful with the recent appointment of Louisa Wickham, chief medical officer at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.