Specsavers stores in Wales have reopened for more general testing this week following approval from Welsh Government, having operated an urgent and essential care only service throughout the COVID-19 restrictions.

Full services available

The full breadth of optical and audiology services, including eye and hearing tests, contact lens consultations, frame repairs and the sale of glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other products, are now available. However, priority will be given to those with emergency, essential and more pressing clinical needs.

‘With lockdown measures easing, we’ve now extended our services in line with the latest government and health guidelines. This means that, for the first time since lockdown, customers are able to book eye and hearing tests,’ says Specsavers director of professional advancement and Bridgend-based ophthalmic director, Paul Morris.

To help manage social distancing, stores are encouraging customers to book an appointment in advance by phone or online via specsavers.co.uk.

New hygiene and personal protection measures include restrictions on the number of customers allowed in store at any one-time, strict social distancing rules and, where possible, card instead of cash payments. In line with NHS guidance, Specsavers colleagues will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and all testing equipment and frames will be thoroughly sanitised after each use.

Specsavers has also introduced a new in-store role to reassure customers who may feel apprehensive about visiting the opticians after lockdown. The Customer Care Guide will greet customers on arrival and assist them through the new testing process, providing reassurance and answering any questions.

'An unprecedented challenge'

‘The Covid-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge in the management of eye and hearing care,’ says Mr Morris. ‘Throughout lockdown we remained open to offer customers essential and urgent care. However, being unable to perform a wider range of eye tests has meant that many people could be living with serious conditions which could have been identified if we had been able to see them.

‘Many eye conditions that can cause sight loss don’t always have noticeable symptoms, especially in their early stages, such as glaucoma, diabetic maculopathy or age-related macular degeneration. Coupled with the fact that at least half of all sight loss is preventable if caught early, regular eye care is hugely important, especially for those in at risk groups.

‘We would ask customers to be patient with us as we welcome them back,’ he adds. ‘The guidelines are designed to keep customers and colleagues safe so will mean fewer people allowed in stores, while maintaining high levels of cleanliness may mean testing takes a little longer.

‘We want to encourage anyone who has missed their usual sight or hearing test during lockdown to book an appointment as soon as possible, so our teams can return to providing the highest levels of care throughout Wales.’

Customers unable to attend a store can still access care and support through Specsavers RemoteCare video and telephone consultation service, and Specsavers Ask The Expert Facebook group, while glasses and contact lenses can be bought online with a current prescription at specsavers.co.uk.

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