The countdown to National Eye Health Week

With the campaign launching on 20 September, OT  reviews the key themes for the week and hears why practices should consider getting involved

green eye
Pexels/Griffin Wooldridge

National Eye Health Week is approaching, aiming to encourage the public to get into the habit of having regular eye tests and making lifestyle changes that benefit their eye health. 

David Cartwright
David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK
Launching on 20 September and running through to 26 September, organisers have urged optical professionals to get behind the campaign, which will raise awareness of the red-flag symptoms of poor eye health and encourage good habits – such as spending time outdoors, eating a healthy diet, being ‘screen smart’ and having regular eye tests.

David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for organising the campaign, commented: “There’s perhaps never been a more important time for the profession to come to together and shine a light on optics, with ophthalmology now the number one reason for hospital outpatient visits in England, and the pandemic leading to millions of missed sight tests and hospital eye appointments.”

With the impact of the pandemic on eye health at the forefront of the minds of optical professionals, activity during the week will include the release of new research and a podcast.

Plans also include the launch of an online vision checker and vision simulator, developed by official partner Thomson Software to encourage patients to book a sight test.

Explaining the concept behind the tools, Cartwright told OT it aimed to particularly address members of the public who might be wondering if they should book a sight test: “those people who are perhaps a little bit in denial.” The tool will help to encourage them to book an appointment at their practice for both vision and the health of the eyes.

A free resource pack for practices including posters, leaflets, infographics, social media assets and virtual background graphics can be downloaded from the Vision Matters website. 

A digital version of Vista, the National Eye Health Week magazine, will also be made available during the week.

Eye care professionals are encouraged to use the resources to engage with their local community, such as through conversations, in-practice displays, or events.

Talking to OT about the campaign week and why practices should consider getting involved, Cartwright shared: “The more it gets picked up by optical practices the better, because it raises the profile of eye health and optical practices.”

He added that National Eye Health Week can help to “centre optics in the minds of patients and the public” – with a focus on eye health and the key message that the first port of call for any eye health queries should be their optical practice.

Cartwright added: “One key aspect of the week we’d encourage everyone to get involved in is our FrEYEday initiative, when we hope to light up social media with stories of why vision matters. To share your story simply download a ‘My Vision Matters Because’ banner from our website, fill it in and share a photo on your social media using the hashtag #FrEYEday.”

More information on the awareness week and how to get involved can be found on the campaign website. Practices can also support National Eye Health Week through social media including the hashtags #EyeWeek and #VisionMatters.