Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Aimed at easing access to primary eye care for fishermen in Britain, the Fishermen’s Mission has launched its new SightFit Project in partnership with Vision Express and generously funded by Trinity House.

Fishermen often work long, irregular hours and are therefore less likely to attend routine screening appointments which can pick up potential issues. Recent pilot programmes at the harbourside have also indicated that fishermen often experience some measure of UV damage. Chronic exposure to UV can cause sore, inflamed eyes and eventually significant loss of sight requiring corneal surgery. We also know that some fishermen with sight limitations such as myopia, go out to sea without wearing glasses, putting themselves and others at risk.

The SightFit Project aims to deliver easier access to primary eye care for fishermen, thereby contributing to better overall eye health in fishing communities.

Free Eye Check vouchers will be sent to each of the Fishermen’s Mission welfare hubs in England and Wales where our frontline outreach staff will hand them out to local fishermen as required.

Fishermen can then make an appointment at the nearest Vision Express outlet, show the voucher to staff and receive a free Eye Check – the scheme is not running in Scotland where all eye checks are already free of charge. If prescription glasses are needed, Vision Express will offer a £45 discount towards the cost of purchasing the glasses.

The Fishermen’s Mission estimates that through SightFit around 300 fishermen will be screened for eye conditions that can lead to visual impairment or blindness if left untreated such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.  They will also benefit from further eye care services and potential treatment if needed which is designed to save sight such as cataract surgery.

“SightFit is a brilliantly simple way to encourage busy fishermen to have their eyes checked, detecting vision problems before they get worse and also keeping them and the rest of their crews, safe while at sea. We are delighted to be working so closely with two prestigious partners who share our passion for improving access to basic healthcare among the country’s fishermen”, said Carol Elliott, SightFit Project Manager.

For further details contact: Carol Elliott on 07486 319621 or at PDMSeafit@fishermensmission.org.uk