A sustainable health and care system has been defined as one which “works within the available environmental and social resources protecting and improving health now and for future generations.” Eye care faces several challenges in the 21st century; an aging population, limited health care resources and a UK government commitment to reducing the NHS carbon footprint by 80% on 1990 levels before the year 2050, and by 34% before 2020. These factors demand a change in the way that things are done. Challenges include the growing number of intravitreal injections, the burgeoning number of follow up appointments for patients with chronic eye diseases and providing effective training while complying with the European working time directive. Often there is no time for considerations about the future, but both locally and globally there is an increasing demand for eye services. Many people suffer from preventable or treatable visual loss and there is a dearth of qualified practitioners who can apply today’s effective treatments more widely. Faced with such pressure on limited services it is important to consider how we can maximise efficiency and promote sustainable eye services for all.
Activities which can be considered examples of sustainable eye care include disease prevention and health promotion, patient education and empowerment, professional education and skill development, lean service delivery, low carbon alternatives to standard care and cost reduction, savings and quality improvement.
The first Sustainability Prize was awarded at Congress 2016. Sponsored by Vision 2002 UK and Optic UK, 16 posters were been shortlisted – well done to all the proud green rosette holders. The top prize went to Wendy Newsom for her poster ‘Sustainable Community Cataract Pathways’.