woman having an eye test done at the optician
© Olena Yakobchuk

Daryl Newsome FBDO R CL SMC(Tech), President of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, examines the important role that optical methods can play in working with vision issues

Where would you go if you woke up tomorrow with attention problems, such as a red eyesight, blurred vision or a foreign body that will needs removing? People in the UK are increasingly turning to their local optic practice, according to the latest research from the UK regulator for the optical professions, the particular General Optical Council (GOC). 34% of people now say they would go to their own opticians compared with 19% in 2015, and the figure is even higher in Scotland. (1)

If you go to an optical practice with a good urgent or emergency eyes problem , you will be seen by an optometrist or even a dispensing optician who has received specialist training. They will have the particular expertise and equipment needed to diagnose the problem and either provide treatment or refer you to the hospital. With optical procedures on most high streets, it is unlikely that you will have to travel far.

You might wonder, therefore , why people might not automatically go to their local optical exercise? And if they would not go in order to their opticians, where would certainly they go?

Exactly where could you proceed if have an eye problem?

According to the GOC study, 35% of individuals would visit their GP. This will be despite the difficulty in getting an appointment plus the fact that GPs do not have the professional training or equipment needed to deal with eye difficulties.

A pharmacy would be the first port associated with call for 9% of people, although, as with GPs, pharmacists do not have got specialist training or equipment that an optometrist or optician would be able to draw on.

And even though the UK’s 4-hour waiting time standard for A& E services was last met in July 2015, 6% of people would go to their community accident and emergency department.

Part of the reason why relatively few people would visit an optic practice along with an acute eye issue can be found by looking at differences across the UK.

Man having eye problems in front of a screen
© Fizkes

People in Scotland (51%) are twice as likely to go in order to an optical practice 1st than individuals in England (27%). This is likely to be linked to the fact that all practices within Scotland receive NHS funding to deal with extreme eye troubles. Public financing for this kind of services is much patchier in britain. People are understandably reluctant to pay for a good appointment at an optical practice when these people can go to their particular GP or even A& E department for NHS-funded care.

Awareness of optometrists’ & opticians’ expertise

Another factor is usually awareness of optometrists’ and opticians’ expertise. According to the particular GOC analysis, 39% associated with people who have been for a sight test in the previous two years might go to an optic practice with an acute problem compared with 22% who have not. A sight check involves both testing the person’s eyesight and examining the health of their eyes . So if you have had a recent sight test you are more likely in order to associate an optical exercise with care with regard to eye wellness problems. On the contrary, a person without any recent experience of going to a good optical practice could well think that their own role is definitely limited to supplying spectacles.

Increasing the number of people who go to an optical exercise with an acute eye problem would improve both patient care plus outcomes, and help to take the strain off hard-pressed GP practices and A& E departments. But this will require 2 main things: increased understanding of the part that optical practices can play in dealing with eye complications – effectively acting as ‘the DOCTOR for your eyes’; plus for NHS funding to enable optical methods to offer with desperate eye problems free-of-charge to the patient throughout England, as well as in the rest of the UK.


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