London Assembly publishes report on sight loss

The London Assembly has published a report on sight loss outlining recommendations to the Mayor of London including developing and implementing a London eye health strategy.

The report, Eye Health – preventing sight loss in London, raises awareness of the challenges facing those living with varying levels of sight loss including their physical and mental health and wellbeing, employment, mobility and social inclusion.

Eye health is a growing issue in London, with an extra 194,000 Londoners predicted to have a sight-threatening eye condition and an extra 74,000 living with sight loss by 2030. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that around one in 12 of the adult population (680,000 people) are already living with a sight-threatening eye health condition in London.

The report recommends that eye health become a greater public priority and that more should be done to encourage Londoners to look after their eye health and raise awareness of the need for regular eye tests. It urges the Mayor to challenge London’s health leaders to integrate eye health into their plans.

Parul Desai, Moorfields consultant in public health and ophthalmology, gave evidence to the London Assembly Health Committee to make sure that the trust was fully engaged in the process.

David Probert, chief executive Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcome the London Assembly’s report on eye health and its recommendation that the Mayor of London develops and implements a London eye health strategy. As London’s leading NHS eye care provider, we valued the opportunity to engage with the development of the report and its recommendations. We look forward to working with the Mayor on the strategy.”

The key recommendations in the report include:

  • The Mayor should work with the eye health sector to help develop and implement a London-wide strategic plan for eye health.
  • The Mayor should ensure that the Thrive LDN mental health programme and the London Healthy Workplace Charter include support for people with eye health conditions and sight loss.
  • The Mayor should use his profile to highlight eye health risks for disadvantaged groups and support the use of community champions to promote eye health.
  • The Mayor should promote vision screening for four and five year olds and ensure that eye health is included in the forthcoming Healthy Early Years Programme.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, chair of the Health Committee, said: “London has a ticking sight loss time bomb on its hands and not enough is being done to raise awareness of the issue. London has some of the best eye health services in the world, but the system is fragmented and plagued with a number of worrying health inequalities. We know that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, homeless people and people with learning disabilities are disproportionately affected by poor eye health. High quality care needs to be accessible to these groups. We are lacking strong leadership in this area and the Mayor of London is ideally placed to drive forward the changes that are needed to transform eye health care in London. We need an eye health strategy for London and we need it urgently.

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