Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

MPs addressed on importance of sensory loss survey

Published: 21 December 2022 at 15:00

Houses of Parliament

Westminster hears plans for inaugural assessment of UK’s vision and hearing health

Cambridge and Peterborough are set to host the first ever survey of vision and hearing loss to be carried out in the UK.

MPs heard plans for the first ever comprehensive survey of vision and hearing loss among the UK population during an event at Westminster organised by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Professors at ARU’s Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) are campaigning with the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Vision UK and other organisations to raise funding for the first ever survey of sensory loss in the country, the UK National Eye Health and Hearing Study (UKNEHS).

During the meeting in the Houses of Parliament, Professor Rupert Bourne addressed MPs about the importance of gathering robust data on eye health. Sensory loss has a huge impact on overall health and wellbeing and is believed to cost the UK billions of pounds every year directly and indirectly.

Professor Bourne leads the Vision Loss Expert Group which conducts long-term research on global vision loss based on population studies. In October, their research on refractive error, one of the biggest causes of vision loss worldwide, informed World Health Organisation targets to significantly increase access to treatment by 2030.

However, the UK is one of several countries that do not have reliable data on vision loss. The UKNEHS will identify the prevalence and causes of hearing and vision impairment and blindness in the UK population aged 50 and over, providing an up-to-date and comprehensive picture of the UK’s eye and hearing health.

A pilot survey is proposed for Cambridge and Peterborough, with a full survey to follow across all four nations of the UK if further funding is forthcoming.

Professor Bourne said:

“During the course of our research it is clear that there are several countries across the world that do not possess reliable data on sensory loss – and the UK is among them. This puts health services at a significant disadvantage when it comes to planning and allocating resources for solutions to vision and hearing loss, much of which can be corrected with relatively simple interventions. 

“The UKNEHS will provide robust data to ensure health services can accurately assess demand, and allocate resources accordingly.”

Professor Shahina Pardhan, Director of VERI at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and a member of the UKNEHS leadership team, said:

“The cost of sensory loss to the UK is great, through costs to the NHS of direct treatment, to wider health consequences like falls, to economic loss through people not being able to work.

“It was a privilege that we could address several influential stakeholders and MPs in the Houses of Parliament on this issue.”

Vision and eye research at ARU

Our Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) carries out ground-breaking research into eye diseases, with a number of key research areas including the epidemiology of eye disease, low vision, glaucoma, myopia and diabetic-related blindness. Read more about VERI's work.