Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Databank. Sight tests
In April 1999, free sight tests became available for the over-60s. Older people are more vulnerable to eye disease. Three-quarters of those registered blind or partially sighted are over 70 and the sight test may be the first occasion on which conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts are detected. Around 5 per cent of people tested are referred to hospital ophthalmology departments with signs of eye disease. A survey for the Royal National Institute for the Blind found that since 1989 there had been a progressive increase in the proportion of people leaving an interval of up to five years between sight tests. It could be that the cost of a private sight test, at an average cost of £18, was deterring these people from getting their sight tested regularly. From April to September 1999 the number of sight tests paid for by Health Authorities in the UK increased by 33 per cent to 1,161,000 compared with the same period in 1998. Nearly all this increase is due to the extension of eligibility for NHS sight tests to the over-60s.