A lack of preparation by eye health commissioners for forthcoming changes to the NHS could result in longer treatment delays for patients.
This was one of the findings of a research survey released this week by charity Visionary and funded by pharmaceutical firm Novartis.
It found that 87 per cent of eye health commissioners, from a sample of 68 primary care trusts (PCTs), had made no plans for how patients would be referred for treatment for serious eye conditions.
With PCTs set to be replaced by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the charity called for eye health to be prioritised and handover plans to be put in place 'to prevent patients falling through the cracks'.
Wide regional differences in access to eye care were also found among the PCTs that responded to the survey. Patients were waiting 10 times longer for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment in some areas than others, and some PCTS were spending 10 times more on eye care services than others.
Stoke on Trent, Bedfordshire and Hampshire PCTs were spending around 0.5 per cent of expenditure on eye health, while Bournemouth and Poole, North Somerset and Suffolk spent 5 per cent.
Visionary also noted that 11 PCTs from those surveyed had still not met a 2003 Action on Cataracts NHS target of performing 3,200 cataract procedures per 100,000 over-65 year-olds.
Angela Tinker, chief executive of Visionary, said: 'At a local level we want to make sure systems are in place in the new NHS to help people get the right treatment fast.
'At the national level we want to ensure that the power is in place to redress the imbalance in the current postcode lottery to avoid unnecessary sight impairment and sight loss which seems inevitable in the current conditions.'