Preventable Sight Loss

More than 2 million people in the UK are living with significant sight loss that impacts on their daily lives. More than half (that’s over a million) could have been avoided. In the UK 250 people every day start to lose their sight and many more people will start to live with sight loss as a result of uncorrected refractive error and cataract. The numbers of people living with sight loss in the UK is increasing. It is predicted that by 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to over four million

 (Statistics from the RNIIB eye health and sight loss stats and facts, April 2018)

 One in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime

 The older you are, the greater your risk of sight loss. It affects:

  • one in nine people aged 60 years and over
  • one in five people aged 75 years and over
  • one in two people aged 90 years and over

 Increased risks include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking over the recommended limits of alcohol
  • Inactive lifestyles
  • Being overweight
  • Eating a poor diet

Very Brief Intervention


I notice you’re wearing glasses – do you have your eyes tested regularly? (usually every 2 years is recommended)

I notice you’re not wearing glasses – do you have your eyes tested regularly? (usually every 2 years is recommended)

If you need more encouragement to (stop smoking/reduce your alcohol intake/be more active/eat healthy) would it help if I told you you’re more at risk of losing your sight if you don’t (stop smoking/reduce your alcohol intake/be more active/eat healthy)?

It looks like your eye is sore / I’ve noticed you squinting / I’ve noticed you rubbing your eyes – have you had that checked? There’s a free service for minor eye conditions and sorting a problem quickly could save your sight

Having regular tests with an optician is really important, and can save your sight. Some people may be entitled to FREE NHS eye tests and vouchers towards the cost of their glasses. If you use a display screen at work, your employer is obliged to provide you with an eye test if you ask for one, and children are entitled to FREE NHS tests.  

NHS Vouchers:


There are some easy ways of looking after your eyes:

1. Have regular tests with an optician. An optician can detect other health issues through looking in your eyes before you even have any symptoms. Find an optician here:

2. Eat a healthy balanced diet, including dark leafy vegetables.

3. Maintain a health weight. Obesity can increase the risk of developing diabetes, which in turn can cause sight loss.

4. Keep active.

5. Stop smoking if you smoke (smoking doubles the risk of preventable sight loss)

6. Drink alcohol within the recommended limits only

7. Wearing sunglasses can help to protect your eyes.  Damage from UV light is cumulative (adds up over years) and contributes towards cataracts and age related macular degeneration (AMD).  Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses with a built-in UV filter will protect your eyes

8. Wear safety glasses when doing DIY or any activity that could result in an eye injury.  DIY and sports injuries cause thousands of eye related injuries each year

9. If you are unable to leave your home unattended, you may be entitled to an eye test at home.  Speak to your optician.


Good vision is not an indicator of healthy eyes. Regular visits to your optician will help you keep your sight as good as possible for as long as possible (usually every two years is recommended unless advised otherwise by your optician).

The majority of sight loss due to refractive error can be corrected simply by wearing the right prescription glasses.

Many forms of cataract are treatable.

If detected and treated early, some sight loss due to glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy could be avoided.

Useful Resources:

If you work or volunteer for a group/organisation, you can request a free vision screening pack from This tool provides participants with a quick vision screening (test).

You can download an eye health leaflet from Wakefield Council’s preventable sight loss page.

NHS Eye tests for Children:

NHS Vouchers:

NHS tips for older people from Age UK:

Using a display screen at work:

Local Support and Contact Details