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Parliamentary event highlights need for action on eye health

Parliamentary event highlights need for action on eye health

A CAMPAIGNING MP has called for a National Eye Health Strategy at a Parliamentary event highlighting the glaucoma ‘timebomb’ facing the country.

Marsha de Cordova, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, called for action during the Parliamentary launch of the State of the UK’s Eye Health 2022 report which focused on a glaucoma timebomb.

The report, which is produced by Specsavers, highlights the need to draw on the skills of the entire eye care sector to prevent avoidable sight loss. It includes examples of innovative pathways in which primary care optometrists not only detect eye disease through regular screening but also manage patient care in the community.

‘Specsavers has produced an excellent report detailing the State of our Nation’s Eye Health in 2022,’ said Ms de Cordova.

‘The report makes a series of fantastic recommendations – demonstrating how optometry can play an essential role in addressing the solutions to the current challenges in eye care and proving that capacity for care in the community is there.

‘There needs to be a coordinated approach to tackle the backlog issues and address inconsistent funding models which are driving the postcode lottery of care,’ said Ms de Cordova.

Announcing her plans to bring forward a Bill in Parliament on a National Eye Health Strategy for England, she said: ‘My Bill would improve the quality of life for people with sight loss, address health inequalities and link up patient pathways for overall improved health outcomes.

(L-R) Specsavers -founder and chairman Doug Perkins, broadcaster and journalist Dr Michael Moseley, MP Marsha de Cordova, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, and Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director.

‘It would do this through research into future treatments, utilise new technologies and increase the uptake of innovative treatments. I am optimistic that the Bill, if passed, will lead to positive change.’

During the event, she spoke about the social, emotional and economic cost of sight loss. She drew on her personal experience of being diagnosed with nystagmus as a young child and now being registered as severely sight impaired.

Other MPs, including former Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Peers also attended the event – which saw a number try out an OCT machine that was brought into Parliament to underline the importance of getting an eye test and good eye health.

Specsavers founders Doug and Dame Mary Perkins were at the event along with leading representatives from industry organisations, including the Association of Optometrists’ chief executive officer Adam Sampson, Sarah Cant, Director of Policy and Strategy at the College of Optometrists and Glaucoma UK trustee Professor Roshini Sanders. Visionary was also a charity partner, while broadcaster and journalist Dr Michael Mosely helped launch the report.

Mr Perkins thanked Ms de Cordova for hosting the event, adding that the entire eye care sector recognised – even before Covid-19 – the need to do things differently to release capacity in ophthalmology.

‘The good news is that there is a united view within the eye care sector. The presidents of both the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the College of Optometrists produced a joint vision statement setting out how primary and secondary care providers can work together to deliver high quality patient care. This is supported by the Association of Optometrists and our colleagues in the voluntary sector,’ he said.

Specsavers was also committed to going the extra mile for the nation’s eye health. ‘We are completely focused on being part of that solution,’ said Mr Perkins.

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