200,000 people are living with sight loss in the capital and just under 700,000 (1 in 12 adults) are living with a sight threatening condition. Unless there are bold interventions, these figures are set to increase significantly by 2030. An estimated 50% of sight loss is avoidable, but not currently avoided. Public awareness and a stretched NHS are major contributors to these poor outcomes. The NHS recommends an eye test every two years, but over a third of people are put off eye tests due to concerns about cost and two in three parents have never taken their child for a test.
Afghanistan and Central Asian Association
Afghanistan and Central Asian Association: There are many people from the ‘hard to reach’ groups who are at risk of sight loss, whether that be due to a high level of diabetes within those groups, more predisposition to certain eye conditions or due to lifestyle factors. The Afghanistan Central Asian Association (ACAA) works with people within the south Asian community. Their project is designed to encourage people from their community to get eye tests, and work with them addressing the need to look after their health in order to prevent sight loss and how to keep fit and healthy. ACAA has been working within this community for many years and given that they are able to hold events and provide information by taking a culturally sensitive approach, it is hoped that the project will raise awareness of eye tests and the need for good health amongst this group.
Eye Heroes: With 50% of sight loss being avoidable, we are delighted to be able to partner with Eye Heroes to spread the vital message about having eye tests.
Eye Heroes raises awareness of the importance of eye tests by equipping children with the knowledge and tools to spread the message. Children are able to spread the message about the importance of eye tests in the ‘hard to reach’ groups within the community and can help overcome barriers associated with language and stigma, thereby becoming Eye Heroes.
Queen's Crescent Community Association (QCCA)
Queen’s Crescent Community Association (QCCA): Blind and partially sighted people can often find it hard to access leisure and gym facilities due to the lack of accessible gym equipment and overcrowded, busy gyms. We are supporting the Join In! project being run by QCCA, which aims to make gyms accessible to blind and partially sighted people by running dedicated sessions and providing assistance where required. As part of the project, they will also be running drop-in sessions for all visitors to learn about eye health and the associated conditions that increase the risk of losing your eyesight. QCCA has a great reputation working within the BAME community given it’s location and links in the area.
SeeAbility: People with learning disabilities are more likely to have problems with their vision, with approximately 10% of people within this group estimated to have some form of visual impairment. However, due to the lack of accessible eye tests problems with vision can go undetected. SeeAbility’s Every Day in Focus campaign gives people with learning disabilities and autistic people the knowledge and opportunity to access the eye care they need. Getting good quality eye care as early as possible is so important to improving people’s quality of life and helping people to achieve the things they want in life. SeeAbility has already have had a successful outcome with their Children in Focus campaign, which focussed on getting specialised eye test for children. They are now keen to extend this to ensuring adults with learning difficulties can access the right eye tests.
Funding awarded in 2021: Building on existing knowledge and programmes of work SeeAbility will recruit and resource two new roles: a London Pathway Expert by Experience and a Co-ordinator. They will then engage with Local Optical Committees and health commissioners and present to them the need for commissioning of the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) Learning Disability eye care pathway in all London boroughs, which could benefit an estimated 17,840 people.