Eye health (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)


In South Tyneside, as across England as a whole, growing numbers of people are living with sight loss or impairment. And this is likely to increase further as people live longer, since a good deal of vision impairment is related to the ageing process.

In South Tyneside we estimate that by 2020, about 5,700 people in the borough will be living with sight loss, which will be severe in more than 700 people.

About half of this vision impairment is preventable. In addition, many people in the borough have risk factors for eye disease which also contribute to other strategic priorities - for example smoking causes about 10% of eye disease and is a major contributor to cancer and cardiovascular disease; obesity is a risk factor for diabetes which in turn contributes to eye disease and cardiovascular disease.

However, advancing age is the single biggest risk factor for eye disease and the biggest driver of demand on secondary, tertiary, and voluntary care services.

Eye health as a public health priority

Indicator 4.12 of the Dept of Health Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) confirms a commitment to reduce avoidable blindness that mirrors the Vision 20:20 UK aim of avoiding preventable blindness by the year 2020.

Improvements in indicators 2.24 (falls), 4.14 (hip fractures), 2.23 (self-reported wellbeing) and 14.13 (health related quality of life for older people) may also be assisted by improvements in eye health. It has been shown that visual impairment is a risk factor for falls in older people. People with visual impairment are more likely to be depressed and self-care for other systemic conditions is likely to be affected resulting in poorer health outcomes for these patients.

NHS Outcomes Framework

Two of the five overarching indicators in the NHS outcomes framework can also be directly and positively influenced by efficient eye care services:

  • Number 2: Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions
  • Number 3: Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care