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Call for opticians to offer lifestyle prescriptions

Eye Health UK[1] is calling on opticians to include lifestyle advice on their optical prescriptions in a bid to cut the number of people in the UK living with avoidable sight loss.

The appeal, which coincides with the launch of National Eye Health Week (23 – 29 September), has already received backing from the UK’s biggest opticial group and independent practitioners.

David Cartwright Chairman of Eye Health UK, said:

“A million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to make everyday activities like driving a car impossible. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition and is linked to all four major causes of sight loss: macular degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of blindness, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts, yet people are unaware that there is an association.”

Reaching out to people with lifestyle advice that encourages them to make simple changes to their diet, smoking habits and activity levels will play a critical role in saving people’s sight in the future.”

Optometrists are perfectly placed to deliver general health advice and support the Government’s mission to ‘put prevention at the heart of the nation's health’[2]. Public trust in advice given by opticians is high. Eighty-eight per cent of UK Adults say they trust health advice from opticians  either a ‘great or ‘fair’ deal[3].

According to new research just 15 per cent of Brits think your exercise regime can affect eye health[4], despite evidence that being physically active can reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle[5] .

Whilst research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption[6], making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today[7].

Lifestyle advice on optical prescriptions and eye examination summaries would not only increase public awareness of the link between lifestyle habits and eye health but also signpost people towards the support they need to make lifestyle changes and improve their general well-being[8].

Commenting on why they are giving the initiative their backing:

Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers said: “Sight is the sense people fear losing the most, so whatever we can do to help our customers maintain the health of their eyes and see better for longer is always our priority.”

Tushar  Majithia from Lunettes Opticians which has practices in Sleaford, Grantham and Ruskington said: “We usually provide eye health advice as part of the eye examination but patients often don’t remember all the information given to them. It is important to reinforce the message by including this information on the optical prescription, as well as providing information leaflets.”


The charity hopes that the lifestyle prescription initiative can be rolled out in optical practices over the next 12 months.


[1] Eye Health UK is a register charity [registered charity number 1086146]
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevention-is-better-than-cure-our-vision-to-help-you-live-well-for-longer
[3] https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/sites/default/files/gphc_public_perceptions_report_-_final.pdf
[4] Eye Health study conducted by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK adults, August 2019
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/
[6] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537
[7] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data 
[8] Illustration of what advice might look like on a prescription “Smoking causes sight loss. It significantly increases your risk of common eye diseases and impairs colour vision. For help to quit visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.”


Published: 23 September