2017 Northern Ireland Sight Test and Ophthalmic Public Health Survey Report

Date published: 04 August 2017

The Department of Health today published the report on the outcomes of the 2017 Northern Ireland Sight Test and Ophthalmic Public Health Survey.

The survey was commissioned through the Developing Eyecare Partnerships (DEP) plan and the data collected will be used to inform commissioning, planning and delivery of eyecare services in Northern Ireland.

This is the first report on overall Sight Test activity since publication of the previous Sight Test Survey in 2014.  As in the 2014 survey, the 2017 survey sought to collect information on key areas such as presence of conditions, Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI) eligibility, referrals and dispensing figures.  Additional questions relating to smoking status and smoking cessation advice were included in the 2017 survey.

The report seeks to summarise key findings from the survey and includes statistics on areas such as:

  • Patient and participating practice profiles
  • Patient profile - General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) and Private patient breakdowns
  • Presence of diabetes, glaucoma, ocular hypertension and family history of diabetes
  • Uptake of Diabetic Eye Screening Programme (DESP)
  • Smoking status and smoking cessation
  • Referrals to secondary care

Key Points

  • Information from 3,312 patient sight tests were submitted over the survey period – 2,433 were GOS tests (73.5%) and 879 were Private tests (26.5%).
  • The referral rate for patients in the survey period was 4.7%, with Cataracts (24.5% of referrals), Anterior Eye (14.2%) and Glaucoma Service (11.0%) being the most common reasons cited for referral.
  • Spectacles or contact lenses were prescribed with 2,131 (64.3%) of the sight tests carried out.
  • For Private sight tests, 94.5% were provided to those aged 19-59, compared to 22.0% of GOS tests for the same age group.
  • A total of 92 practices returned survey data from 274 invited, giving a 33.6% return rate.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Sight Test and Ophthalmic Public Health Survey report is published by the Department of Health, via the Statistics Section of the website. 
  2. Previous Sight Test surveys were carried out in 2007 and most recently in 2014.  Results from previous years are available on the DoH website at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/dhssps-statistics-and-research/opticians-statistics.
  3. For statistical or data queries, please contact Information & Analysis Directorate on 028 9052 2160.
  4. For policy queries please contact General Dental and Ophthalmic Services Branch, Primary Care Directorate on 028 9052 2267.
  5. Media queries to DoH Information Office on 028 9052 0571. Out of office hours contact Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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