Sir George joins campaign to prevent avoidable blindness
24 Jan 2006
Sir George with Steve Winyard, Head of Public Policy at RNIB
Sir George with Steve Winyard, Head of Public Policy at RNIB
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Sir George joined with RNIB in Parliament for the launch of their national eye health campaign ‘Open Your Eyes’, which aims to cut the number of people who will unnecessarily lose their sight from treatable eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and Age-related macular degeneration.

RNIB estimate that if urgent action is not taken now, the number of people with sight loss could double by 2030, to four million people.

‘I support RNIB’s call on government to raise awareness of the need for a regular eye test and will be working at local and national level to help them with the campaign. Many people believe that an eye test is just to see whether you need glasses, but it is more than this - it is an eye health check. Only two-thirds of the adult population have had an eye test within the past two years, the most common reason for not having a test being that people think they don’t have a problem with their eyes. But an eye test can identify eye disease well before we notice any change in our vision. By the time there are symptoms a great deal of useful vision will have been lost and may never be recovered. I would urge everyone in our area to get their eyes tested regularly.”

Steve Winyard, RNIB’s Head of Campaigns said “Ignorance is quietly robbing people of their sight every day. Unless action is taken now tens of thousands of people across the UK will this year needlessly lose their sight from conditions that could be treated if caught early. The Government needs to act now as the situation is going to get much worse with the explosion in the numbers of people with diabetes and the ageing of our population.

We want the Government to invest in a large-scale public eye health awareness campaign on the importance of regular eye tests. Regular eye tests are vital for everyone. An eye test can save your sight.”

Notes to Editors:

1) Open Your Eyes reveals that over half of sight loss in the UK is avoidable. The report also states that in the UK 1.9 million people have diabetes (which leads to retinopathy in at least 60% of cases causing irreversible sight loss unless treated early) and either don’t know it or aren’t having regular eye tests. A further 250,000 people have glaucoma in its early stages, which is treatable in nearly all cases if caught early, and are not aware of it.

2) You are eligible for a free NHS eye test if you are aged over 60, under 16, under 19 and in full time education, have diabetes, glaucoma or are over 40 and have a close relative with glaucoma. If you use a VDU regularly at work, your employer is legally obliged to provide a free eye test.

3) An RNIB leaflet “What an eye test checks – and how it could save your sight” is available from RNIB Customer Services on 0845 345 0054.
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