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The NHS estimated in 2018 that there were around 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss, with 360,000 registered as severely sight impaired (blind) or sight impaired (partially sighted).

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) reported in 2017 that women are at greater risk than men of sight loss. It estimated that around one in four women will develop sight loss in their lifetime, compared to one in eight men, which it linked to the longer life expectancy of women. The RNIB’s website provides further information on the criteria for certification of sight loss, known as a Certificate of Vision Impairment in England, and how sight loss is measured.

Some types of sight loss are avoidable via appropriate treatment and management.

Public Health England estimated rates of preventable sight loss in 2019/20, among those aged 40 and over, as follows:

From glaucoma: 12.4 per 100,000

From diabetic eye disease: 2.9 per 100,000

From age related macular degeneration: 105.4 per 100,000

The NHS recommends that most people should get their eyes tested at least every two years, whether they qualify for a free NHS sight test or not. Some people will require more frequent eye tests, such as those with diabetes.  In addition to checking a person’s eye health, a sight test can also help to detect issues with a person’s general health, including high blood pressure and associated cardiovascular diseases.

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