Managing the eye health of the older population

14 November 2022
Autumn 2022

Ageing and eye health series

In 2022, almost 11 million people in the UK are aged 65 or more. By 2032, this will have increased to nearly 13 million people, or approximately 22% of the population (Centre for Ageing Better, 2022).

With this comes increased pressure on health and care systems, especially if the healthy life expectancy of the population doesn’t increase (Government Office for Science, 2016).

Recent trends in the eye care workforce show that 27% of the workforce planned to reduce their hours in the following 12 months and 15% planned to leave the profession (General Optical Council, 2022). 

© Getty

Combined, these two factors raise the issue of capacity and skills in the optical workforce caring for this ageing population. There is a need to ensure that there are enough optometrists to meet patient need, optimise services and improve patient outcomes in the future. This is something the College recognises in its Workforce Vision for the UK, and that influences all its work (COptom, 2022).

In this issue, Acuity is launching a series of articles about our ageing population and the implications for eye health in the UK.

We start with a general introduction to how eye health is affected by ageing, the projected impact on the profession, and the state of the optometry workforce. 

In the next issue, we will focus more closely on eye health in older people, and how conditions such as cataract, glaucoma and macular disease impact their quality of life. We will also look at how these conditions can be treated and managed currently, and how service provision is changing because of the strains on health services.

In future articles, we will investigate the optometry workforce, examining the pressures the profession is already under, and what impact the increase in ageing population is likely to have, in terms of headcount and meeting their specific health needs. 

We will also look at how multidisciplinary working is changing the way eye care services are delivered and how optometrists and ophthalmologists can care for older people with dementia. Finally, we will turn to the future, and review how new technological developments can be used to treat and manage eye health problems in older people, and how this might ease the coming crisis. 

We hope you enjoy this series of articles. As usual, we welcome your feedback at


Centre for Ageing Better. (2022) Summary: the state of ageing 2022. (accessed 15 September 2022).

College of Optometrists. (2022) Optometry 2030: a workforce vision for the UK. (accessed 15 September 2022). 

General Optical Council. (2022) General Optical Council registrant workforce and perceptions survey 2022. (accessed 15 September 2022).  

Government Office for Science. (2016) Future of an ageing population. (accessed 15 September 2022). 

Related further reading

The College has provided key information to help you identify cases and guidance on managing circumstances that are relevant to optometry practices.

The College’s Research Excellence Awards recognise achievements in optometric research, and the way in which they enrich the whole profession.

The College of Optometrists offers support to hay fever sufferers on managing their symptoms.