Over 19 million sight tests are carried out each year in England and about 13 million of these are NHS-funded, to support patients with visual complaints that relate to defects of sight caused by refractive error.
In addition, people with eye related conditions account for 5 million GP consultations and 270,000 A&E attendances per year. Demand for hospital eye services has increased by 8% in the past two years and is adding to capacity pressures for the NHS.
It’s a growing issue that RNIB is also keen to see addressed:
“We are facing an extremely challenging time for eye health in the UK. We are pressing for integrated services and effective referral and treatment for local communities as a key way of tackling the capacity problems in hospital eye departments.”
Helen Lee, RNIB
Optical practices form an integral part of primary care and will need to be utilised if the NHS is to meet the needs of an ageing population, whilst improving efficiency, outcomes and closing the funding gap.
The benefits of community optometry for patients and GPs:
Patients have access to aftercare services as and when required
Convenient community based locations, with extended opening hours
All examinations carried out by qualified, accredited optometrists, using all relevant diagnostic equipment
Collectively the 140,000 days currently spent by GPs on eye-related queries could be dealt with by community optometrists. As a result the equivalent of more than 500 extra full time GPs could be freed up.
The commissioning of MECs (minor eye conditions) significantly impacts on referral rates to secondary care, reducing the 1.7 million first attendances at ophthalmology outpatients by at least 10%; the equivalent of 170,000 HES appointments and net savings of £5.5million.
Minor Eye Conditions (MECs)
These following symptoms should be signposted into a minor eye conditions scheme, rather than a sight test:
Your patients can discover more information on eye health here:
How to refer to your patients
In areas of the country where Specsavers has been contracted to provide Enhanced Optical Services for Minor Eye Conditions on behalf if the NHS, patients can self refer into the service without the need for a GP referral. Where NHS contracts are not in place, Specsavers offers private Eye Health Clinics for Minor Eye Conditions, again on a self-referral basis.
Check with your CCG to find our what schemes are live in you area.
Eye tests at home
Does your patient have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from getting to one of our stores? With Specsavers Home Visits eligible customers can have a full eye test at home or in their care home with one of our home-visiting opticians. What’s more, should they need glasses, they’ll be able to choose from hundreds of styles and take advantage of the same offers that they’d find in store.
More information on home visits can be found here: