Specsavers and the NHS are urging the population to seek FREE advice/examinations for any minor eye conditions from their local community optician's – especially with many GP surgeries closed over the festive season.

The advice follows recent research conducted by Specsavers which found that Scots are seeking treatment from GPs, pharmacies and even A&E services for minor eye conditions that could be treated by opticians for free. In most cases patients then have to be redirected to their optician by other healthcare professionals. 

The first stop for common eye complaints this winter

Minor eye conditions covered in the survey included a number of common complaints such as red eye, dry eye and itchy eyes.

The Censuswide poll of more than 1,000 Scots revealed more than three-quarters (76 per cent) have never visited an optician to investigate such a condition.

Almost a fifth (17 per cent) sought advice elsewhere – and of that fifth, 64 per cent visited the doctor, 38 per cent went to the chemist/pharmacy and 11 per cent went to A&E/hospital.

Added pressure on the health service

Martin O’Neill, Specsavers’ divisional chair for Scotland, said: ‘With only 24 per cent visiting an optician to get treatment for a minor eye condition, this can put unnecessary pressure on the health service, especially at Christmas when many local services close.

In the same way that people would make the dentist the first port of call for a tooth issue, the NHS recommend that your optometrist should be your first thought for eyecare, where you’ll get access to optical experts – and it’s highly likely that you’ll be seen more quickly and effectively by an optometrist than by your GP.’

The survey also revealed that many people are simply not aware that opticians can treat minor eye conditions for free. Almost a third (31 per cent) said they did not know opticians offered the service and nearly 18 per cent said they thought the service would be expensive.

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