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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Eye tests too stringent for cataract patients

13th August 2012

A Freedom of Information request by the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) has shown 57% of NHS trusts are not giving patients cataract surgeries unless they fail eye tests.


Eye health organisations including the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO), said the strict tests meant many patients suffered a reduced quality of life because they could not have cataract operations to improve their sight.

A warning statement was published by the Optical Confederation, the College of Optometrists, the Local Optical Committee Support Unit and the RCO. 

Professor Harminder Dua, the President of the RCO, said: "We understand the financial pressures the NHS faces but cataract surgery is a highly cost effective treatment that improves sight loss and preserves patients’ ability to live independent lives," he said in the statement."

"Using visual acuity thresholds to impose limits on cataract surgery is economically counterproductive when it leads to higher health and social care costs because patients’ vision deteriorates." 

The FOI request showed in some areas in the south east patients' eyesight had to be so poor that they had difficulty reading the third line of a standard eye test.

It also found that cataracts could cause other problems such as light glare and double vision, which were not picked up by eye tests. 

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