Diffusing the demographic eye health time bomb - how can optometry help?

About the session

The number of UK residents aged over 75 set to rise from 4.9 million (2010) to 8.9 million (2035), whilst the ratio of working-age to retirement-age populations drops from 3.16 (2010) to 2.87 (2035).

Old age is a major risk factor of cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It has been estimated that there will be a 49% increase in glaucoma cases between 2015 and 2035, a 52% increase in cataract cases and 64% increase in AMD.  The increase in diabetic retinopathy may be even greater.

Demand management, pathway redesign and task shifting have been identified as key to managing this demographic time bomb. Optometry potentially have a key role in facilitating each of these.

Deprivation is also a major risk factor for the main causes of vision impairment. However, there inequalities in access to the benefits certification for vision impairment. There are inequalities in uptake of NHS funded sight tests. There are inequalities in access because of where optometric practices are located. There are negative public perceptions of optometry. Thus the business model that underpins optometry may not be fit for purpose to address the demographic eye health time bomb.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes and CPD information to be confirmed.


Professor Darren Shickle

Professor Darren Shickle is Professor of Public Health at the University of Leeds. He has previously worked at University of Sheffield, University of Wales College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University in the USA. He has worked at the Department of Human Services in the United States Government and the Department of Health in the UK Government. 

His interests include ophthalmic public health, leadership and competency frameworks, and public health ethics. He is a member of the steering group for the UK National Eye Health and Hearing Study. He has written 22 papers and articles relating to population eye health.