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MSPs mark National Eye Health Week

RNIB Scotland are marking National Eye Health Week 2023 by encouraging MSPs to visit their local optometrists for their free eye exam. Taking part so far are MSPs Stuart McMillan, Jeremy Balfour, Michael Marra, and Colin Smyth, who each visited their local optometry practices this week. National Eye Health Week takes place from 18 to 24 September 2023 and highlights the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all.

James Adams, RNIB Scotland Director, said

“Research shows that sight is the sense people fear losing most. Yet we can be surprisingly complacent about it. We’re here to support anyone experiencing changes in their vision and is worried about what this could mean. We can provide the advice and support so you can make an informed decision about your healthcare. No one should go through an eye condition diagnosis without support.”

The MSPs each visited their local optometrist to have their vision and eye health checked.

Colin Smyth, South Scotland MSP with Fiona, RNIB ECLO

Colin Smyth, South Scotland MSP, said

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who look after our eye health - our optometrists, our opticians and everyone else who helps us take care of our vision. Eye health checks can be crucial in picking up conditions before they get worse. A few years ago, I noticed what appeared to be a few floating objects and little flashes of light in my vision, so I popped into my local optician to describe my condition and ask for advice. I was seen straight away and was very quickly diagnosed with a torn retina; I was then referred to the hospital that very day to see the on-call ophthalmologist, and the next morning, I received laser treatment to repair the tear. Had I not had such prompt service, the tear could very easily and quickly have led to a detached retina, which could have permanently affected my vision. Eye health checks not only pick up such conditions but can detect general health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Indeed, that ability to pick up eye and more general conditions makes such checks one of the most vital forms of preventative medicine.”

L-R Gillian Hallard, RNIB Scotland with Ian Jarvis, Jarvis Optometrists, and Michael Marra

Michael Marra, North East Scotland MSP, said

“National Eye Health Week is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of eye health and how it affects sight and wider health issues. Meeting today with Jarvis Eyecare, an independent optometrist here in Dundee, I heard first hand just how important regular eye tests are for public health. I encourage people to make sure they get an eye test, which is free in Scotland, at least every two years.”

Stuart with Specsavers colleagues (1 & 3) and Rory Paterson of RNIB Scotland

Stuart McMillan, Greenock & Inverclyde MSP, said

“Our sight should never be taken for granted and I urge every constituent to get their eyes tested regularly. The free sight test funded by the Scottish Government enables this to happen and with the most up to date technology available on our high street, everyone has the opportunity to have the best possible examination.”

NEHW Dan, RNIB Scotland, optometrist, and Jeremy Balfour

Jeremy Balfour, Lothian MSP, said

“I'm backing National Eye Health Week to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye examinations. These are free for everyone in Scotland, and they can help to detect eye health conditions early, as well as other general health conditions. I encourage everyone to make an appointment with their optometrist every two years, or more often if advised.”

Optometry Scotland, the representative body for optometrists and dispensing opticians in Scotland partnered with RNIB Scotland to arrange the visits.

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar says,

“Having a regular eye test is really important for people’s wider health - they can pick up early signs of sight threatening conditions as well as many other underlying health conditions.

“Since 2006 eye health checks have been free in Scotland and you can get one every two years.

“Optometry Scotland and RNIB Scotland do tremendous work raising the profile of eye health and I would urge everyone to follow their advice and get their eyes checked regularly.”

Julie Mosgrove Optometry Scotland, Anas Sarwar, James Adams RNIB Scotland

Julie Mosgrove, Chair of Optometry Scotland, adds

“We’re pleased to see MSPs visit our member practices to hear more about the fantastic work they do in the local community. National Eye Health Week is a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the fact regular eye examinations can help to detect not only eye health conditions but also general health conditions, as well as picking up changes in your prescription. These conditions can include glaucoma, but also high blood pressure, strokes and in some cases brain tumours, although this is thankfully rare. Your vision matters, and we recommend that people have an eye examination every two years, unless they are advised by their optometrist to have them more frequently."