RNIB’s SOS campaign reveals 50% of sight loss ‘avoidable’

Debbie with Steve Winyard, RNIB Head of Policy and Campaigns May 2012

I recently attended the launch in Parliament of the new eye health campaign called Save or Sight (SOS), by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).  The campaign highlights the fact that 50% of sight loss cases are avoidable.

I welcome the RNIB’s campaign to improve early diagnosis and access to treatment for people in Oldham and across the country. There is not only a moral imperative but also sound economic reasons for ensuring sight loss is treated quickly and prevention is prioritised.

Most people are shocked to learn that 50 per cent of sight loss is avoidable and RNIB’s SOS campaign aims to tackle the timebomb of unnecessary sight loss and promote the importance of timely access to vital treatment.

The RNIB’s SOS report shows Oldham received a ‘green light’ on glaucoma follow up appointments; a ‘green light’ on wet age related macular degeneration treatment policy; ‘amber’ on cataract treatment policy and ‘no response’ on macular oedema following retinal vein occlusion treatment policy.

Although these results are generally good I have written to the PCT for more information about the ‘amber’ result on cataract treatment and the ‘no response’ result on macular oedema treatment policy.

It was worrying to hear from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists at the launch that the Health and Social Care Act is impacting on treatment decisions, with more decisions being made on financial grounds rather than on clinical need. This is an issue that Labour warned about during the passage of the Act and we will continue to pressure Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure clinical need is the primary basis for treatment decisions.

RNIB research shows that there are around two million people in the UK with sight problems and the number of people at risk of the main causes of blindness – cataract, glaucoma, wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease is set to increase by up to 25 per cent in the decade leading up to 2020.

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