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Sensory health: Eye care and hearing statistics

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  • Release date: 28 June 2017
  • Period covered: 2016-17
The report aims to provide a summary of currently provided sensory care services in the context of poor eye health and hearing loss.

Key points

Sight loss

  • The National Survey for Wales for 2016-17 asked if respondents’ eyesight was good enough to see the face of someone across a room, with glasses or contact lenses if they usually wear them. 3 per cent of adults aged 16 or over responded that either they could not or with difficulty.

Primary eye care services

  • During 2016-17, 776,827 General Ophthalmic Service sight tests were paid for by the NHS, a 1.0 per cent increase on the previous year.
  • 150,324 examinations were carried out under Eye Health Examinations Wales during the same year.
  • Of the 139,264 patients screened (with results reported) by the Diabetic Eye Screening Wales Service in 2016-17, 28.2 per cent were found to have some degree of diabetic retinopathy (a small number were ungradeable).

Hospital eye services

  • There were 322,139 attendances to ophthalmology outpatient appointments in Welsh hospitals in 2015-16.
  • Health Boards received 91,846 referrals for ophthalmology in 2016-17, of which 31,824 were from GPs.


Low Vision Service Wales
  • 8,792 assessments were carried out by the Low Vision Service Wales.
People newly certified and/or registered as severely sight impaired and sight impaired
  • At 31 March 2016, over 16,000 people were registered with a visual impairment, of whom around half were registered as severely sight impaired and half as sight impaired.
  • 1,388 people were newly certified as sight impaired in 2015-16; over 55 per cent of these were aged 80 years or over.


  • There were 819 practitioners carrying out sight tests paid for by the NHS at 31 December 2016, 1 more than in the previous year and a 21.7 per cent increase since December 2006.
  • At 30 September 2016 there were 137.7 whole time equivalent ophthalmology doctors directly employed by the NHS in Wales.


  • Welsh Health Survey recorded that 16 per cent of adults reported having difficulty with their hearing in 2015.
  • At 31 March 2017, 390 patients had been waiting for a hearing aid for more than the target 14 weeks.
  • At 30 September 2016 there were 133.6 whole time equivalent otolaryngology doctors directly employed by the NHS in Wales.


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