What’s new in ‘State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016’?

13 September 2016

Back to Expert series blog

Catherine Dennison, Senior Manager for Evidence, at RNIB discusses some of the new information informing State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016. 

RNIB’s new partnership with the high street opticians, Specsavers, gave us an exciting opportunity to take an overview of what we know about eye health in the UK and consider key areas for action. The result is our new State of the Nation: Eye Health 2016 report. As well as drawing together existing material, we had the chance to consider new sources of information. 
For example, new analysis of the financial cost of sight loss to the UK was available to us from Deloitte Access Economics [publication of fuller details of this analysis in a peer reviewed journal is expected shortly]. They estimate that the total costs to the UK economy in 2013 were around £28 billion. This is an increase of £6 billion since 2008. These costs include hospital treatment, prescriptions, and reduced employment; however the biggest part is costs associated with the impact of sight loss on health and wellbeing.
Compiling the report gave us the opportunity to collect stories from a number of people who took action in response to vision problems and improved their quality of life; they are a poignant addition. In Beverley Hall’s case this was life saving; a sight test at her local opticians spotted an abnormality which was diagnosed as a malignant ocular tumour. We know that nearly half of sight loss can be prevented and regular sight tests are a key part of this.
The report was also able to draw on a You Gov poll exploring how people across the UK think about eye health. More than a quarter of people had not had a sight test within the recommended two year period. When extrapolated to the UK population, this is equivalent to around 14 million people. People gave a myriad of reasons for not getting an eye test recently, including three in 10 who said they don’t have time or haven’t got round to it. 
These new sources of information reinforce the need to continue to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and the role of regular eye tests. Improving the nation’s eye health remains an enormous challenge so we conclude the report by setting out a clear agenda for action - by working together we can reduce unnecessary sight loss.