Association of Optometrists calls on Government to act as cost of living forces patients to ‘make do’ with poor vision
Marsha de Cordova, Labour MP for Battersea is supporting the #EyeCareSupportNow campaign which asks that the NHS optical voucher value is increased
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is warning that eye health in the UK is set to be another casualty of the cost of living crisis, as two-thirds (62%) of the public who wear glasses or contact lenses reveal they are “putting off” going to see an optometrist due to fear of the cost.
The AOP is calling for a 12.5% increase to the NHS optical voucher order, as part of the wider benefits uplift, to help those most in need to be able to access proper eye care.
A public poll of over 1000 people carried out in October reveals the impact of the cost of living crisis on people’s day-to-day vision, with many wearing out-of-date prescriptions and “making do” with taped-together glasses.
Two-fifths (36%) across all ages say they are wearing out-of-date prescriptions and a fifth (19%) use broken glasses they have had to self-repair.
In the AOP’s latest Voice of Optometry survey of 876 optometrists, seven in 10 say they have seen a patient in the last three months who needed vision correction but took no action because they couldn’t afford it.
Three-quarters (77%) of optometrists surveyed say increasing the value of NHS optical vouchers would encourage patients to seek the help they need with their sight.
Adam Sampson, Chief Executive of the AOP, says: “Our research shows that people are being forced to make decent vision an optional “extra” — a truly concerning reality. It’s imperative that action is taken now to minimise the long-term damage to people’s eyesight.
“A simple yet effective step is increasing the NHS optical voucher now to reflect the impact of inflation and to help the millions of people who are struggling to cope with rising costs.”
Marsha de Cordova, Labour MP for Battersea said: “It is extremely concerning that we still live in a society where people are being forced to struggle on with poor vision, headaches and eyestrain which inhibits their ability to do everyday tasks. Proper eye care shouldn’t be a luxury and people shouldn’t have to choose between spending money on their sight or eating. I fully support the Association of Optometrists’ call on the government to act now and uprate the NHS optical voucher to protect patients most in need.”
Practitioners are encouraged to share the resources. The campaign is using the hashtag #EyeCareSupportNow.
For more information and how to get involved visit, www.aop.org.uk/costofliving
For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.
Association of Optometrists
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk
About the Research
Research was carried out online among 1,002 people in the UK who either require vision correction (852 respondents), believe they require vision correction (120), or are responsible for a family member who requires vision correction (30). Those who were responsible for a family member answered on their family member’s behalf. The fieldwork took place in October 2022 and adhered to MRS guidelines.
The Voice of Optometry panel, set up by the AOP in 2017, provides research from the optometry sector. 876 practising optometrists completed the online survey in September 2022.
What the public told researchers:
- “Although my sight is very important, so is feeding my children”
- “At the moment I have a pair of reading glasses from the pound shop, because I don't have any spare money to get an eye test and new glasses. I know that they are not correct for my vision, and I have to strain my eyes to read properly”
- “[I have] Eye strain and headaches, and need new glasses but don’t have the money”
- “[I have] been struggling to focus for a few months but can’t afford new specs”
- “[I] Can’t afford to go for a test or get up to date prescription so am living with an out of date prescription which I fear will damage my eyes long term”