AOP joins national coalition to raise the importance of eye health
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has joined the Eyes Have It partnership – a coalition of national organisations that campaigns to champion the importance of eye health and help improve the lives of patients with deteriorating eye conditions. (Early story reported by Opchat News here)
The coalition aims to raise awareness of issues such as delayed referrals, service capacity, a shortage of clinical specialists, and the emotional impact of delays to treatment and the burden of treatment for patients with sight loss.
The Eyes Have It partnership is calling on Government and the NHS to improve services for those with deteriorating eye conditions and has outlined a series of recommendations to help, including:
- Appointing a National Clinical Director for Eye Care
- The development of a national strategy for eye care to focus on alleviating pressure on hospital eye services
- Implementing guidance that would enable direct referral from community optometry to secondary care ophthalmology.
Adam Sampson, Chief Executive of the AOP said: “More than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and it is absolutely vital that the proper funding and infrastructure is in place to support them.
“Optometrists have a proven track record providing services that mean patients get access to the care and treatment they deserve, and this was demonstrated throughout the pandemic when our members played a vital role in reducing waiting list times for all NHS patients who needed eyecare and the pressure on hospital eye departments. But investment in the eyecare workforce and infrastructure is a key priority to ensure timely access to treatment and better outcomes for patients. We’re delighted to be able to support the Eyes Have It partnership, utilising our unique community-led position on the high street, to advance work in this area.”
Carolyn Ruston, Director of Policy at the AOP, added: “It is an honour to join the Eyes Have It partnership to raise the profile of eye health across the board. We are excited to be part of a group that is prioritising the importance of good eye health and timely treatment for those who need it.”
Earlier this year, MP Jim Shannon hosted a Westminster Hall Debate, during which he emphasised the need for urgent action to increase capacity in eye care services. It followed Westminster Eye Health Day in October 2021, which welcomed more than 50 MPs including the entire shadow health team. Both events called on Parliament to take more action to address capacity issues in the NHS and improve access for patients.
The Eyes Have It partnership was set up by the charities Fight for Sight and the Macular Society, and Roche Products Ltd. Roche also funds Ovid Health to act as secretariat to the group.