Doug Perkins calls for action to improve eye health

Concerted call for action on eye health

Co-founder of Specsavers Doug Perkins was joined by RNIB acting CEO Sally Harvey, TV presenter and journalist Anne Robinson, and shadow Health Minister Julie Cooper MP in calling for action to improve eye health at an event in central London yesterday.

They were speaking at the launch of The State of the Nation Eye Health 2017: A Year in Review published by RNIB and Specsavers.

One in four people are still not having an eye test every two years

‘I am delighted to be here with you today to celebrate what has been achieved through the partnership between RNIB and Specsavers, and to look forward to the challenges ahead’ Doug Perkins told the invited audience.

He went on, ‘It is truly shocking that one in five people will have to live with sight loss in their lifetime, despite half of all cases being avoidable.

‘All of us here today know that an eye test provides a comprehensive health assessment of the eyes and can detect signs of sight-threatening conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma. And we know that if these conditions are detected early, there is a much greater chance that they can be successfully treated. Yet one in four people are still not having an eye test every two years.

‘So – with RNIB – we promise to continue to raise awareness of the importance of an eye test, to encourage more people to come forward. In the year ahead we will be doubling our investment in raising public awareness.

‘And it’s not just about the eye test. There is so much more than optometrists can do in the community, working closely with ophthalmologists, to improve eye health.

‘This year we have undertaken the largest ever post graduate accreditation programme for glaucoma. This follows on from last year’s minor eye conditions accreditation achievement.

‘In fact, when you add it all up, our optometrists between them have now undertaken more than ten thousand additional specialist accreditations in detecting and monitoring eye disease. But this is not enough on its own to transform eye health.

‘We see from the policy roundtables write-up in the State of the Nation report that there are examples of great practice in eye care around the country – efficient, patient-centred models of care in community settings, established by passionate, committed clinicians.

‘But we need national leadership and strategy to support these clinicians and the service managers and the commissioners so that these pockets of great practice can become the norm rather than the exception.

‘Without this national leadership the eye health crisis will continue to worsen and patients’ sight will be put increasingly at risk.’

From left to right: Dr Zoe Williams, who hosted the launch, Dame Mary Perkins, Anne Robinson, Doug Perkins, Lady Penny Lancaster and Sally Harvey

For the RNIB, Sally Harvey also highlighted the achievements of the RNIB and Specavers transforming eye health partnership, and concluded with her call to action: ‘We know that without leadership the eye health crisis will continue to worsen and patients’ sight will be put increasingly at risk.

‘So we invite you all to be part of something bigger – to connect with others as we campaign for change. With one voice we are calling for senior decision-makers to prioritise eye health and work with local eye health champions to ensure that people receive services and treatment that prevent avoidable sight loss.’

Read the State of the Nation eye health report 2017

Notes from eye health policy roundtables

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