Preventing sight loss in older people
15th June 2011
RNIB Cymru has chosen National Eye Health Week 13-19 June to call for greater public awareness of regular eye tests to combat sight loss in Wales, which it estimates will double over the next 20 years.
The charity says lack of public awareness is leading to an upsurge in sight loss 50% of which is preventable and is already costing the NHS in Wales over £100million per annum.
As part of National Eye Health Week, on Wednesday 15th RNIB Cymru will officially launch its latest report at The Senedd, Cardiff Bay, entitled: ‘Preventing Sight Loss in Older People.’
Ceri Jackson, Head of Sight Loss Prevention at RNIB Cymru said: "Nearly half of people aged over 60 in Wales, who those most at risk of eye disease, are not taking advantage of the free sight test they are entitled to. Our findings show that people are unaware of the importance of regular eye tests for preventative eye disease diagnosis, and not just for checking vision or addressing symptoms."
Ceri Jackson added: “The 100,000 plus people with sight loss in Wales will double over the next 20 years due to our aging population.
This is leading to an increase in eye diseases such as Glaucoma, cataract and Age-related Macular Degeneration. Our message is simple - having a sight test can literally save your sight. You can lose sight without realising and you may not even be in pain. “
The new RNIB Cymru report also calls for a pubic health campaign on the issue. Ceri Jackson said: “We would like to encourage a multi0agency approach with government and our partners in the field for a sustained public health campaign informing people most at risk of eye disease to attend regular eye tests’ The report states: ‘Public health strategies in Wales urgently need to address issues around eye health and sight loss prevention in order to plan for and reduce the future demands of eye care on health and social services.’
According to the organisers, more than 40% (43%) of the population as a whole is currently risking their sight and their health by not going for regular sight tests. Although more than 9 in 10 people know about the wider health benefits of sight tests, this knowledge is not resulting in people visiting their optometrist.