COVID-19 disrupted so much of our lives, now a report shows that 4.3 million people missed their eye test in 2020* – the impact of which could cost the economy £2.5 billion** in sight loss and blindness.

As the nation battled the COVID-19 pandemic, understandably all services were redirected to care for critically ill patients. As a result, NHS elective eye appointments were cancelled and community optometrists, like us, went from running busy clinics to restricting our services to everyone but those in need of the most urgent care and looking after the eye health needs of key workers.

To help us understand the impact the pandemic had on eyecare, we commissioned a report by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report makes for a stark, but at times heart-warming read as we understand the scale of the challenge to eye health but also the tremendous spirit of teamwork as everyone worked together to take urgent action to care for patients.

The key statistics* make worrying reading when it comes to missed appointments and the impact that has on our vision and the economy:

  • There was a 4.3 million drop in the number of eye tests delivered in 2020, a 23% decline compared to tests administered in 2019.
  • Referrals to hospital eye services dropped by 316,000 in the period March to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, a 28% decrease. In the absence of COVID-19 they would have seen an ophthalmologist for review and treatment.
  • An estimated 2,986 people have lost vision due to delayed identification and treatment of eye disease; some are experiencing severe sight loss and blindness.
  • The estimated additional economic cost of sight loss and blindness due to the pandemic between 2021 and 2024 is £2.5bn.

If you are experiencing any problems with your eyes or vision you can book an appointment at your nearest store.

Just click on the button below and add your postcode and we’ll find your nearest store. If you have any serious concerns about your eye health you can find the phone number of your local store and call them directly to explain the situation.

Working together on a nationwide emergency

The pandemic has worsened the pre-existing delays to eyecare which means there are now even more patients waiting to be seen.

This represents the tip of the iceberg as many of those who missed appointments, or had treatment delayed, will have more serious or advanced vision problems by the time they see a professional. This will have a huge impact on the health service and economy for years to come.

Thankfully key groups from across the UK are working together to reduce waiting times and develop plans to tackle the problems including The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, College of Optometrists, major charities and representative groups across all four countries of the UK.

Read the full report

If you like to read the full report it can be downloaded here.

Specsavers Hindsight Report

A look back on eye and hearing care trends during 12 months with COVID-19 and how it's affected us all in many ways.

OCT eye tests

Our most advanced eye exam, an OCT scan gives us a 3D image of your eye allowing us to look deeper into your eye than ever before.

NHS funded eye tests

The NHS, together with Specsavers, will cover the full cost of an eye test for anyone in the UK who qualifies.