RCGP prioritises eye health amongst elderly patients

Eye Health, with a focus on ageing and sight loss, has been announced by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) as one of its four clinical priorities for 2013 – 2016, following a successful proposal by the UK Vision Strategy, a united cross sector initiative.

Working together, the RCGP and UK Vision Strategy will develop a framework to help GPs across the UK to identify undetected sight loss amongst elderly patients.

Undetected eye conditions can have a significant impact on the quality of life of older patients. Almost 2 million people in the UK are living with sight loss but this is set to double to 4 million by 2050. These increases are mainly due to an ageing population as over 80% of sight loss occurs in people over 60 years.

Anita Lightstone, Programme Director for UK Vision Strategy and Chief Operations Officer for VISION 2020 UK said: “Many older people accept poor vision as part of the natural ageing process but this does not need to be the case. GPs have a vital role to play in raising awareness of the need for them to protect their eye health.

“By making eye health a priority and making ageing and sight loss a particular focus of this programme of work, we hope that we will be able to prevent many elderly patients from losing their sight unnecessarily.”

Dr Waqaar Shah, Royal College of General Practitioners Ophthalmology Representative said: “By identifying sight loss at an earlier stage GPs can help prevent patients suffering from other issues such as falls and depression which have strong links with sight loss, which will significantly improve the lives of patients.”

A three-year programme of work by the RCGP for eye health, focusing on ageing and sight loss, will launch in April 2013 and will be led by a senior clinician, to be known as a clinical champion, who will be appointed in early 2013. More information will be announced shortly about the programme and the resources which will be developed by and for GPs and fellow primary health care professionals to enable them to improve the quality of patient care in this clinical area.