Specsavers in Wick has been selected to become a dedicated Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centre (EETC) for patients from Caithness and North Sutherland who need emergency face-to-face care during the COVID-19 crisis.
NHS Scotland has established a network of EETC hubs across the Highland Health Board region to handle emergency and essential eye care following referrals from local optometry practices.
The Specsavers practice is fully set up to follow social distancing, hygiene and PPE guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and patients. It also offers Specsavers’ RemoteCare, a new specialist telephone and video consultation service set up in response to the pandemic.
A word from the store director
Ian Morris, Ophthalmic Director at Specsavers Wick, said: ‘Our aim is to keep patients at home wherever possible. Our RemoteCare service means patients who have concerns about their eyes can telephone us for advice, and we can provide support either over the phone or via video link, using cutting edge technology to help us assess them.
‘Much of the time we will be able to resolve their problems this way, and keep them at home where it is safest – this will also help to ease the burden on GPs, pharmacists and hospitals during the crisis.
‘Where face-to-face treatment is necessary, the EETCs will come into play – like our own practice here in Wick. Patients from across the area who absolutely need to be assessed and treated in person will come here, where we are fully set up to follow the latest NHS Scotland guidelines to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
‘Our service will be especially useful for key workers who couldn’t do their jobs without our help, and we’ve already been able to assist lots of people whose eye problems would otherwise have caused them real distress during the crisis.’
Providing vital care in the community
In recent days, Specsavers Wick has removed a piece of metal from a referred patient’s eye and prescribed contact lenses for a gentleman whose cataract surgery had been cancelled for his second eye due to virus protocols, leaving him unable to make use of his glasses.
The team also carried out RemoteCare for an elderly gentleman arranging a prescription for eyedrops from the pharmacist for home delivery, and used teleophthalmology, a form of digital medical equipment, to treat another elderly gentleman who had reduced vision as a result of changes related to diabetes.
Ian Morris continued: ‘We’re proud to provide vital care for our community at this time and I’m delighted that we are able to support those who need it as safely as possible. We’d urge anyone with concerns about their eyes at this time to telephone their optician in the first instance – we are here to help.’