As part of the recently announced partnership between Specsavers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People a ground-breaking research report entitled State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 has been revealed at the House of Lords today. The report marks the launch of a £3million public awareness campaign calling for a transformation in attitudes to eye health and care in the UK.
Cost saving initiatives
The report revealed that there are currently more than two million people in the UK living with sight loss, which is significant enough to impact their daily lives. Nearly half of all cases are preventable. This figure is set to rise to 2.7 million by 2030 due to the UK’s ageing demographic.
State of the Nation
The State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 report considers the direct and indirect costs associated with reduced health and wellbeing due to sight loss. Using NHS and official population statistics, the report estimates that sight loss is costing the UK economy £28 billion a year, which has increased from £22 billion in 2008.
Protecting our children’s futures
A YouGov poll carried out as part of the State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 report revealed that of 2,000 parents of children aged three to 16, 27 per cent said their children had not had an eye test before their eighth birthday and nearly a fifth of all school age children have undiagnosed vision problems.
Dr Philippa Simkiss, head of evidence and service impact at RNIB says: ‘Sight plays a vital part in a child’s development of language, social and cognitive skills.’
The report found that those at highest risk of visual impairment include very premature and very low birth weight babies, children from the most economically deprived backgrounds, children and young people from some South Asian ethnic groups, and children with learning difficulties.
Children’s vision campaign
Specsavers has launched a children’s vision campaign making software available free to all schools in the UK to help identify whether a child needs an eye test. Called SchoolScreener EZ, the software- is unique in being suitable for use with children aged four to 16 and includes a colour vision test. Designed to be operated by teachers or classroom assistants, the software has 35 different language options. Schools can register to receive their free kit at screeningforschools.com.
Transforming eye health
Doug Perkins, Specsavers co-founder and joint group CEO, says: ‘We hope that this report will act as a starting point for providing people with the necessary information and support to enable them to take an active role in looking after their own eye health.
Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street, followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions, can help to save sight as well as saving the public purse millions of pounds each year. Far too many people have an eye test only when they have experienced a problem with their eyes, which may then be too late.’
RNIB Acting CEO Sally Harvey adds: ‘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 we are facing an extremely challenging time for eye health in the UK.
Improving the nation’s eye health is an enormous task but we must rise to it and take action now to stop people needlessly losing their sight.’
Specsavers has joined forces with RNIB to help educate people about the need for regular eye tests to help maintain and protect their sight. The opticians has also pledged to raise vital funds to support the charity’s work assisting people affected by vision loss.