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Visual Impairment

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 204564, tabled on 20 December 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle preventable blindness.

Answered on

9 January 2019

The Government takes the concerns around reported avoidable sight loss very seriously. Following the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment’s ‘See the Light’ report, initial meetings have been held with key stakeholders to discuss the Department and NHS England’s response to the report’s recommendations and these discussions are ongoing.

Two key initiatives, Getting it Right First Time being led by NHS Improvement and the Elective Care Transformation Programme being led by NHS England have considered, as part of their programmes, what can be done to ensure patients do not suffer unnecessary delays in follow-up care for ophthalmology.

Action is also being taken to reduce sight loss caused by medical conditions. On diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes which can lead to sight loss, a diabetic retinopathy screening programme led by Public Health England offered screening to 2.4 million eligible people in 2015/16.

Early detection is also key and free National Health Service sight tests are available to those at increased risk of eye disease or likely to be deterred from seeking private tests on grounds of cost.