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Hundreds left with lost or damaged eyesight after NHS delays

Hundreds of patients have lost their eyesight or had it irreparably damaged because of NHS backlogs, new research suggests.

NHS England clinicians have filed 551 reports of patients who lost their sight as a result of delayed appointments since 2019, with 219 resulting in “moderate or severe harm”, according to an FoI request by the Association of Optometrists, which believes that hundreds more cases are unreported.

Its chief executive, Adam Sampson, said sight loss was a “health emergency”, and urged ministers to introduce a national eye health strategy to enable high street and community optometrists to ease some of the burden on hospitals.

He said: “There are good treatments available for common age-related eye conditions like macular degeneration but many hospital trusts simply do not have the capacity to deliver services.

“Optometry is ideally placed to take away some of that burden – optometrists are already qualified to provide many of the extended services needed and are available on every high street, so patients can be treated closer to home. It’s incomprehensible and absolutely tragic that patients are waiting, losing their vision, in many parts of the country because of the way eye healthcare is commissioned.”

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Source: The Guardian, 21 March 2023


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