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House of Commons Hansard
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25 March 2010
Volume 508

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to take to encourage people to have regular sight tests. [323371]

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Free sight tests are available under the national health service to large parts of the population including people aged 60 and over, children under 16, those aged 16-18 in full-time education, people on benefits, those people at particular risk of developing eye disease, and people who are registered blind or partially sighted or who have a complex spectacle prescription. Sight tests allow the opportunity to review all aspects of eye health, including investigations for signs of disease. Those at risk of specific eye disease (e.g. diabetic retinopathy) may be asked to attend regular screening.

Information about the extensive arrangements for providing help with NHS optical services and other health costs is published in leaflet HC11 “Are you entitled to help with health costs?” Posters are also available for display in optical practices and hospital out-patient departments. A copy of the leaflet has already been placed in the Library.

The uptake of NHS sight tests continues to increase. In 2008-09, there were 11.3 million NHS sight tests, an increase of 2.1 per cent. on 2007-08.

The Department is also supporting National Eye Health Week which will be held between 14 and 18 June and is aiming to promote the importance of regular sight tests.