Andrew Jones MP raises awareness of the importance of having regular sight tests

Andrew Jones MP

5 August 2016
Source: Optical Confederation

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who, as Transport Minister, has responsibility for Road Safety, visited Page and Smith Opticians in his constituency on Wednesday 27th July to find out why regular sight tests are so important in preventing blindness.

Over 1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss and this figure is set to increase by 115% to nearly 4 million people by 2050, largely due to the ageing population (1). Much of this is preventable through the early detection and treatment of eye problems.

During their early stages, sight loss-causing eye conditions are often symptomless. This means it is very important for everyone to have a regular sight test, especially those who drive to help them remain safe on the roads.

At the visit, Andrew met with representatives from the North Yorkshire Local Optical Committee (LOC) and also heard about the greater role local optical practices are playing across North Yorkshire, by delivering eye care over and above sight tests.

Community optometrists and opticians can deliver high-quality eye care services over and above the sight test by, for example, monitoring stable glaucoma patients in the community and treating minor eye problems. This relieves pressure on hospital eye clinics and GP surgeries, and reduces the risk of patients not receiving the care they need.

North Yorkshire Local Optical Committee Chair Darryl Taylor said: “We really appreciated Andrew taking the time to meet with us and discuss the role opticians and optometrists can play in delivering eye care in the community. We also discussed the importance of regular sight tests to pick up symptoms of eye conditions in their early stages – which may not be obvious to the patient – so they can be referred on for investigation and treatment.”

Commenting on the visit, Andrew Jones MP said: “I have done a lot of work with Guide Dogs locally and nationally.  I know from that just how important it is that we look after our eyesight.  This visit really hammered home the important message; regular checks and early intervention mean that problems that may cause blindness later in life are identified and dealt with before they have chance to damage your eyesight.”

Optometrist and Page and Smith owner, Sarah Smith said: “It was great to meet Andrew and talk about our work as optometrists and opticians. We are an underused resource in the NHS and many additional services can, and should, be delivered in practices like this one. This would help reduce pressure on NHS budgets and reduce attendance at A&E, GP surgeries and hospital eye departments.”

Many groups of people are entitled to NHS-funded sight tests. These include those aged 60 and over, all children under 16 and those on low incomes. Optical practices are convenient and offer easy access in the local community. You can visit any practice that is either near where you live or where you work. Optical practices can see NHS patients at times that suit them.

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