An eye health specialist in Croydon has warned south Londoners over the risks posed by a "ticking time bomb" of vision health issues present in the region.

Director of Specsavers Croydon Seema Patel has said new research showing the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on eye health was likely just the "tip of the iceberg" regarding what has been described as a "vision crisis".

The research Patel referred to State of the UK’s Eye Health Report 2021, which was compiled by various eye specialists and charities.

It showed that almost 3,000 people (2,986) are "estimated to have lost their sight due to delayed identification and treatment of eye disease during the pandemic".

Additionally, the study found that "more than 300,000 (316,000) people... missed referrals for ophthalmology services" because of Covid.

An estimated £2.5 billion additional economic cost of sight loss and blindness due to the pandemic between 2021 and 2024 was also estimated in the research.

"As comprehensive as this report is, we, along with our colleagues and partners across the eye health sector, suspect these early findings are just the tip of the iceberg," Patel said.

"The pandemic meant that eye care services in the UK were withdrawn, reduced or restricted, and despite Specsavers being open for care throughout the pandemic, our stores alongside other high street opticians, saw a drop of almost 25 per cent in eye tests across the sector.

"This has led to a reduction in referrals and the treatment of serious, and sometimes symptomless, eye conditions that can lead to irreversible and permanent sight loss if not detected and managed in time. The eye health sector, and the NHS, has a ticking timebomb on its hands.

"Regular eye tests are so important. If people in London have missed their appointment during the pandemic, I urge them to book..."