Optometrist highlights vision crisis in Aberdeenshire
Experts warn the impact of the pandemic is a ‘ticking timebomb’ on eye health.
Jill McArthur, store director at Specsavers is highlighting the stark findings from a national report which shows there were 76,910 missed appointments at Specsavers stores 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 now facing society as a result of the pandemic, but more worryingly, the very real cost to people’s sight.
UK-wide, it shows that almost 3,000 people (2,986) are estimated to have lost their sight due to delayed identification and treatment of eye disease during the pandemic and more than 300,000 (316,000) people 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.
Jill said: “The pandemic meant that eye care services in the UK were withdrawn, reduced or restricted, and despite Specsavers being open for care throughout the pandemic, our stores alongside other high street opticians, saw a drop of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 8,690 people are living with sight loss in Aberdeenshire. It also shows 2,900 have glaucoma, 12,200 people have early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), 2,510 have late-stage AMD and 2,830 have cataracts.
Yet, despite this many people are still not making their eye health a priority.
Jill adds: “Regular eye tests are so important. If people in Aberdeenshire 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.”
To book an appointment at the Ellon or Inverurie store visit www.specsavers.co.uk.