Almost two million people are living with significant sight loss in the UK and this figure is predicted to double to four million by 2050.

Optometrists have an important role to play in preventing people from losing their sight unnecessarily.

Preventing avoidable sight loss

Our Preventing avoidable sight loss guide introduces optometrists and ophthalmologists to RNIB's work to develop evidence-based eye health interventions. It provides an overview of:

  • the five key areas optometrists and ophthalmologists can address to improve access to, and design of, local eye care services
  • RNIB's research into the barriers and enablers that affect access to primary and secondary eye care services
  • the key recommendations from an evidence review examining the effectiveness of intervention strategies to address inequalities in eye health care
  • the Community Engagement Project’s pilot interventions, which seek to improve eye health for groups at an increased risk of sight loss.

Download our Preventing avoidable sight loss guide to learn about RNIB's pilot eye health interventions and the actions you can take to help increase eye care service uptake and treatment concordance.

Optometrists can save the sight of wet AMD patients

Our new report highlights how optometrists can help prevent unnecessary sight loss in wet AMD patients by making faster referrals. Wet AMD - or wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration - is an eye condition that affects 40,000 older people every year. As wet AMD can develop very quickly, resulting in loss of central vision, urgent referral to a hospital eye clinic is vital.

The report - Don't lose sight! Don't delay! - is part of RNIB's Save our Sight (SOS) campaign. It reveals that the time taken from first contact, to referral, to diagnosis varies greatly, with 69 per cent of cases being diagnosed outside of the recommended seven days. Three quarters (74 per cent) of patients had their first contact with a community optometrist. Wet AMD can lead to sight loss in as little as three months. This is why it's vital that patients are diagnosed in the eye clinic within seven days, and that treatment commences within the next week - in line with Royal College of Ophthalmologists guidance.

Other key findings from the report highlight that:

  • Preventable delays are caused by some GPs or optometrists not following their local rapid referral procedures.
  • Patients can be referred unnecessarily between optometrist and GP, delaying diagnosis.
  • One third (34 per cent) of patients felt that there was a lack of information and support at the time of referral and diagnosis.
  • Over referral of patients who don't have wet AMD is also an issue, due to a lack of appropriate diagnostic technology in the community.

RNIB is calling on community optometrists to follow their local rapid referral pathway to help save the sight of wet AMD patients. Actions for optometrists include:

  • "Making every contact count", asking at risk groups to return immediately if their vision changes or they start to see wavy lines.
  • Making sure that patients understand that their referral to the eye clinic is urgent.
  • Knowing and using appropriate, local rapid referral pathways for wet AMD patients.

Download the reports