World Sight Day on October 12 highlights the need for people to look after their vision in order to prevent avoidable sight loss.
And to mark the day GPs in Staffordshire are reminding people of a free NHS service that is available if they are worried about their eyes.
The Minor Eye Conditions Service is available through specially trained and accredited local optician practices to anyone who is registered with a local GP. But you don’t need to contact your GP to get an appointment – just go straight to the most convenient practice.
Dr Gary Free a Cannock GP and Clinical Lead for Stafford and Surrounds CCG said: “Optometrists are not just there for people who think they may need glasses. They are healthcare professionals who are highly qualified to deal with conditions related to your eyes and eyesight.
“If you have sudden concerns about your eyes MECS will be the best option rather than seeing your GP or going to A&E. You will be examined by an optometrist as an NHS patient free-of-charge as long as you are registered with a local GP.”
A range of conditions MECS opticians can deal with include:
● Red eye or eyelids
● Dry eye, or gritty and uncomfortable eyes
● Irritation and inflammation of the eye
● Significant recent sticky discharge from the eye or watery eye
● Recently occurring flashes or floaters
● Ingrowing eyelashes
● Recent and sudden loss of vision
● A foreign body in the eye
(But this service does not cover regular eye sight tests)
Mark McCracken, Optometrist and Chair of the Staffordshire Local Optical Committee said: “The optometrist who sees you will usually be able to offer treatment or advice on how to deal with your condition. If they think it is more serious they will book you an urgent appointment at a hospital eye clinic without you needing to see your GP.
“You may also be advised to make an appointment with your GP if your eye condition is related to your general health.”
“When you ring for an appointment you will be asked some questions about your symptoms in order to assess how quickly you need to be seen by the service, which will be within 24 hours in urgent cases and within a few days for routine appointments.”
A leaflet with more information and a list of practices signed up to MECS can be found online: http://www.cannockchaseccg.nhs.uk/our-services/eye-care-services
The three CCGs are also gathering the views of patients to understand their expectations from existing services and to find out what is important when accessing ophthalmology services for patients suffering from a range of eye conditions.
The survey can be accessed at: www.tinyurl.com/SAS-Ophthalmology-Survey