NHS hospitals in Scotland are spending an estimated £127million on specialist ophthalmology services, treating and maintaining eye health and vision problems.

the State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016​

The figure was revealed in a report from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Specsavers – the State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016. The report concluded that the figure could be significantly reduced by better public take-up of free, NHS Scotland funded, routine eye tests, and by earlier diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions.

The report supports a £3m multi-media public health awareness campaign by RNIB and Specsavers to transform eye health and reduce preventable sight loss in the UK.

Partnership pledge
Specsavers and the RNIB have also announced a new partnership, which includes a pledge by Specsavers’ 700 plus UK stores – including the 65 across Scotland – to collectively raise significant essential funds to assist RNIB’s vital work. The report, which was unveiled at the House of Lords on September 7, was supplemented by an independent YouGov poll[v] of more than 10,000 UK adults.

The YouGov survey also revealed that –

• despite universal free eye examinations being introduced in Scotland in 2006, 25% of adults do not know they are eligible for free NHS eye examinations.

• a quarter of people in Scotland have not had an eye test in the past two years, as typically recommended by optometrists.

• 68% of Scottish parents who have a child aged between three and 16 years-old who has not had an eye exam in the past two years, said this was because they did not think there was anything wrong with their child’s eyes.

Challenges for eye health
RNIB Scotland Director, Campbell Chalmers, said: ‘An ageing population, rapidly growing demand for eye health and care services, and capacity problems in some clinics at a time of growing budget deficits, means that we are facing an extremely challenging time for eye health in Scotland, and the UK as a whole.

‘Improving the nation’s eye health is an enormous challenge but we must rise to it and take action now to stop people needlessly losing their sight. ‘Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street, followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions, could help to save sight as well as saving the public purse millions of pounds each year.’

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