Laura Stallerbrass, Dispensing Optician Director at Specsavers, is highlighting the stark findings of a national report which shows there were 4.3 million fewer eye appointments during the pandemic – with 76,910 of missed appointments at the company’s stores alone across the north of Scotland.
The State of the UK’s Eye Health Report 2021, commissioned by Specsavers in collaboration with leading eye health experts and charities, counts not only the additional financial burden as a result of the pandemic, but, more worryingly, the very real cost to people’s sight.
UK-wide, it shows that almost 3000 people are estimated to have lost their sight due to delayed identification and treatment of eye disease during the pandemic and more than 300,000 have missed referrals for ophthalmology services.
It predicts that there will be a £2.5 billion estimated additional economic cost of sight loss and blindness due to the pandemic between 2021 and 2024.
Laura said: “The pandemic meant that eye care services in the UK were withdrawn, reduced or restricted, and despite being open for care throughout the pandemic, our stores alongside other high street opticians, saw a drop of almost 25 per cent in eye tests across the sector.
“This has led to a reduction in referrals and the treatment of serious, and sometimes symptomless, eye conditions that can lead to irreversible and permanent sight loss if not detected and managed in time. The eye health sector, and the NHS, has a ticking timebomb on its hands.”
The findings are being reflected locally with up-to-date figures showing 4680 people are living with sight loss in Angus. It also shows 1500 have glaucoma, 1410 have age-related macular degeneration and 1570 have cataracts. Despite this many people are still not making their eye health a priority.
Laura added: “If people in Angus have missed their appointment during the pandemic, I urge them to book. We are still adhering to strict safety precautions in every one of our stores. It’s important people keep having regular appointments, even if they don’t think anything is wrong as many conditions are symptomless in the early stages.”