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East Ham MP Stephen Timms stresses the importance of regular eye tests

PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:30 13 January 2016

Archant

I'd like to begin by wishing everyone in east London a very happy new year.

Two weeks before Christmas I accepted an invitation from the Optical Confederation, the opticians’ trade body. They wanted to give me a better idea of services local opticians now provide. Their suggestion was for me to call on well established local firm Neil Gordon Opticians, at 113 High Street North.

An estimated 1.6 million people in Britain have sight loss, including 4200 in Newham. Across the country, 100 people start to lose their sight every day. The Optical Confederation reckons half could have their sight saved through early intervention and diagnosis.

Local opticians carry out 17.5 million eye tests per year. Their contribution is crucial.

I was welcomed by John Bryan, who founded the practice in 1985. Two other optometrists work there too, John’s wife Catherine Bryan, and local man Yunus Motara who did work experience at Neil Gordon as a student in 1995, and has stayed ever since. They are supported by a friendly dispensing and reception team.

They wanted to impress upon me the importance of regular eye tests. Of course, that’s good for their business, but its good for our eyes too. Charges for eye tests vary. At Neil Gordon it’s £25. But about 80 per cent of their customers are entitled to a free test: everyone under 16 and over 60, full time students under 19, people claiming a DWP benefit, plus anyone who is diabetic or has glaucoma, and anyone over 40 who has a close relative with glaucoma.

John showed me some very impressive equipment, capable of producing amazing images of our eyes! For tests using that equipment, an extra charge is likely.

I came away determined to have my eyes tested every year or so. I hope you will too.

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