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New web-based model paves the way for commissioning local eye care services

9 Oct 2008

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A new National Eye Health Epidemiological Model (NEHEM) will, for the first time, make data on the prevalence of four common eye conditions freely available. The model will be launched today (October 9) and will be invaluable to those involved in the commissioning and provision of local eye care services in the UK.

NEHEM has been developed by the Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) at Imperial College, London. Commissioned by the optical bodies and funded by the Local Optical Committee (LOC) Central fund, it provides data on the prevalence of glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration and low vision. Based on epidemiological and population studies, the data is split by age, gender and geographical or Primary Care Trust (PCT) area.

David Hewlett, Chairman of the NEHEM Steering Group said:
“The launch of this model represents a major step forward for eye health in this country and delivering the UK Vision Strategy. For the first time commissioners and providers will be able to compare reliable, scientific estimates of local need to identify priorities and areas for new investment. I cannot emphasise enough our thanks to the LOC Central Fund for their generous support in funding this model and making it available to all those who are striving to improve the eye health of the nation.”

The model presents the data on a user friendly website which any person or body can access free of charge. The site is live at

Various groups of users will want to use the data in different ways. Commissioners of local services, local optical professionals and charities involved with low vision or sight loss may well wish to use the data to highlight the need for services in a particular area. The use of NEHEM is not limited to these groups. The developers envisage that it will become an extremely useful tool for policy makers, clinicians and the health press also.

Stephen Remington, Chief Executive of Action for Blind People said:
“Action for Blind People is delighted to be associated with the launch of this epidemiological model. The vision impairment sector is notoriously short of reliable data and this new approach will make a tremendous difference. Working together with optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians we can all make real improvements to people’s lives”

October 9th is World Sight Day. The launch is co-hosted by Action for Blind People and supported by Vision 2020 UK and the Eye Health Alliance.


Notes to Editors:
1. The optical bodies that commissioned the model are the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, the Association of Optometrists, the College of Optometrists, the Federation of Ophthalmic & Dispensing Opticians, the LOC Central Fund and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

2. The Eye Health Alliance is a coalition of optical bodies and eye sight charities, for more information visit
3. For more information on the model and launch please contact Stuart Cole on 020 7202 6653 or email

4. Enquiries that are generated via the website will be dealt with by the LOC Support Unit. The LOC Support Unit was formed by the optical representative bodies to provide support to Local Optical Committees.

5. Action for Blind People is an expert national organisation, ensuring blind and partially sighted people get practical support in all aspects of their lives. Contact Action for Blind People’s National Freephone Helpline on 0800 915 4666 or for more information.

6. VISION 2020 UK is an umbrella organisation which facilitates greater collaboration and co-operation between organisations within the UK, which focus on vision impairment and operate on a national, regional or international basis.

7. The website was created by Public Sector software specialist Motive Technology. Motive Technology has been providing software and services to Public Sector organisations for the last 10 years and is a member of Equanet’s Catalist Partner programme. Visit for more information.

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