The Annual Carbon Footprint of NHS Sight Tests at Five Optometry Practices

Rosie Hillson
Rosie Hillson • 22 February 2022

Increasing UV radiation exposure, rising air pollution and warmer drier conditions pose a greater risk to human eye health. Climate change, caused by rising Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, can exacerbate these risk factors. Equally, eye health services are often resource intensive, with consumables, energy consumption and travel requirements subsequently contributing to rising GHG emissions.

NHS England commissions optometry practices to deliver sight tests in primary care to eligible patients. Until now the carbon footprint and subsequent environmental impact of NHS sight tests has been unknown.

The aim of this study is to calculate the annual carbon footprint of NHS sight tests at five fixed site optometry practices in the North West, provide an estimate of the average carbon footprint of an individual NHS sight test and identify variation between practices. This report has been produced by CSH in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement (Cheshire & Merseyside) and Cheshire Local Optical Committee.


  • GHG emissions associated with travel (staff commuting and patient travel) are the highest contributor to the annual carbon footprint of NHS sight tests at the five optometry practices.
  • The average carbon footprint per NHS sight test across the five practices is estimated at 5.27 kgCO2e.
  • This study is the first of its kind in the UK and highlights the need for further carbon footprinting work within the optometry sector.
Resource author(s)
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare
Resource publishing organisation(s) or journal
National Health Service England
Resource publication date
February 2022

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