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Background

There are significant inequalities in the eye health of different UK populations, with people in deprived socioeconomic groups and certain ethnic groups more likely to lose their sight and less likely to access services, even if they are readily available.

Generally under-represented in campaign or policy activity, failing sight has major implications for public health. Poor vision can increase isolation, limit physical activity, increase the risk of falls, and add to feelings of depression and loneliness.

We have produced a report summarising the evidence around uncorrected refractive error (URE) and inequalities associated with patient access in deprived areas. Our aim was to identify gaps in current policy and research, and outline a strategy to begin addressing the issues identified. 

Poor vision can increase isolation, limit physical activity, increase the risk of falls, and add to feelings of depression and loneliness.

- Thomas Pocklington Trust, Loneliness, social isolation, and sight loss (2014)

Key messages

  • Uncorrected refractive error (URE) can adversely affect quality of life, impair education and increase the risk of falling.
  • URE is more likely if you live in a deprived population but mapping realistic prevalence levels is problematic.
  • While there is a lack of evidence for an association between socio-economic status and patient access to eye services.
  • Qualitative studies suggest that public perceptions of optometry and optical services are a key factor.
  • More public health education targeting deprived populations on eye health and eye services is called for.
  • Evidence from studies that have mapped practice location suggest General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fee structures can affect viability of optometric businesses in deprived areas.

 

Download the report

Download the report, which includes case studies and key recommendations for optometric bodies:

 

Other resources of interest

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