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Steve joins National Eye Health Week campaign to raise awareness of eye health and prevent avoidable sight loss

(June 13, 2011)

Steve National Eye

Labour MP Steve Rotheram has joined eye health professionals and representatives of national sight loss charities in Parliament to mark National Eye Health Week (13 – 19 June). Steve said, "At least 50 per cent of sight loss is avoidable if identified early enough. A simple sight test offers the quickest and easiest way for all of us to check our eye health and make sure our sight is not in danger from diseases, which in their early stages, can have no obvious symptoms.

"The number of people with sight loss is expected to double to nearly 4 million over the coming decades unless action is taken to raise the profile of sight loss and educate people on the importance of eye health. However, charities and professionals have expressed concern that eye health is not mentioned in the Government's Public Health White Paper or the vast majority of local authority and NHS service delivery plans."

The former Lord Mayor of Liverpool continued, "Sight loss affects two million people in the UK.  Unless we start taking action to prevent people from losing their sight we will be facing a public health crisis in eye health in a few years time. Directors of Public Health need to take notice. It is vital that they include the eye health needs of their local population into JSNAs and the future health and wellbeing strategies. "

"I will be working locally with our NHS and Local Authorities, to ensure that public health action includes action on eye health. This might mean local campaigns to highlight the link between smoking and blindness or to encourage more people from deprived areas or ethnic minority backgrounds to have their eyes tested."

David Scott-Ralphs, Chief Executive of SeeAbility and Chairman of National Eye Health Week said: “National Eye Health Week is an opportunity to emphasise the need for everyone to have a regular sight test as a crucial part of their healthcare routine. But it is also an opportunity to look at national and local policies to ensure that eye health gets the attention it deserves. I would like to thank Steve for joining with us and taking action to ensure that more people are aware just how much their vision matters and that we ensure that people do not lose their sight unnecessarily.”                           

The National Eye Health Week website (www.visionmatters.org.uk) features lifestyle and health advice, including tips on how to look after your eyes and what to expect as part of a sight test. It also provides information on who is entitled to a free sight test and assistance with the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

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