NHS optometry delays causing sight loss

Andrew McClean finds out about the AOP’s new national eye health campaign

Over 200 people lost their vision because of delays in receiving NHS treatment since 2019 and hundreds more unreported cases were suspected.

The findings were revealed in a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Association of Optometrists (AOP), which said there were currently 628,502 people waiting for a hospital eye appointment in England.

Adam Sampson, chief executive of the AOP, said: ‘We are facing a health emergency. Hospitals are overrun and the NHS is collapsing under patient need. There are good treatments available for common age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration, but many hospital trusts simply do not have the capacity to deliver services.

‘Optometry is ideally placed to take some of that burden. Optometrists are already qualified to provide many of the extended services needed and are available on every high street, so patients can be treated closer to home.’

The number of people waiting for a hospital eye appointment was the second largest NHS backlog and equated to one in every 11 patients on an NHS waiting list, the AOP said. Furthermore, 27,260 of the 628,502 people have been waiting a year or more.

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