Eye Tests are more important than ever

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is calling on people in the East of England to look after their eyes during this year’s National Eye Health Week [21st – 27th September].

The charity is highlighting the role that high street optometrists can play in eye care, at a time when hospitals are facing backlogs in appointments caused by delays and cancellations as a result of lockdown.

Louise Gow, Specialist Lead in Eye Health at RNIB, said: “It’s very important that people in the East of England look after their eyes in order to avoid unnecessary sight loss. The most common sight conditions in the UK, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be detected during a routine eye test. With optometrists re-opening after lockdown, we are urging anyone who is due an eye test to get in contact with their optician and book an appointment.

“Numerous safety measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, including asking people to arrive exactly at the time of their appointment to avoid full waiting rooms or delays, staff wearing full PPE and social distancing between staff and patients where possible. We want to reassure people that every effort is being made to ensure their safety and urge them to get any sudden changes in vision seen to.”

The past few months have seen a shift in how high street optometrists provide support. Many opticians have been open throughout lockdown to advise over the phone or see people who were worried about their vision face-to-face. In many areas, optometrists were involved in providing expertise for the Covid Urgent Eyecare Service (CUES).

Since the easing of lockdown, they have been supporting hospital eye clinics by managing some of the routine assessments that hospital teams are not able to see yet, such as checking eye pressures and triaging minor eye conditions. These services are in addition to the specialist optometry services that were already been in place.

If you’re unsure about attending eye care appointments or are unable to attend, please contact your optometrist or hospital eye department.

If you have any concerns about your vision, contact RNIB’s Sight Loss Advice Service on 0303 123 9999 or visit rnib.org.uk/eyehealth.

• Pictured top of page shows Norwich Cathedral with a simulation filter of Retinisis Pigmentosa. This filter provides an idea of what people with said condition can see, but is not representative of everyone’s experience with the same condition.