A local optician has completed a postgraduate course that allows him to prescribe eye medication to help take the pressure off local health services.

Specsavers Ammanford optometrist, Gavin Howells, has completed an Independent Prescribing course at Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, which allows him to not only diagnose but also prescribe treatment to patients - helping them avoid busy hospitals and GPs.

The 25-year-old from Cross Hands began the course last September and was due to sit his exam in Cardiff. However, the COVID-19 lockdown meant he had to sit the paper virtually, from the comfort of his own test room.

Commenting on his new qualification, Mr Howells says: ‘This qualification has come just at the right time. Giving our customers the best possible care is always our priority, but being able to treat and prescribe medication directly to them means we can also take the pressure off local health services - particularly important during a national health crisis.’

According to the RNIB, there are 7,970 people living with sight loss in Carmarthenshire alone, many of whom may benefit from the new service at the Quay Street store.

‘I am passionate about learning and keen to keep developing my skills to benefit those in my local community,’ says Mr Howells. ‘This seemed like an obvious next step in providing enhanced optical care to our customers.’

Kevin McCarthy, store director at Specsavers Ammanford, says: ‘Gavin has been an asset to the team for four years, but his new qualification is invaluable to our community.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge in the management of eye and hearing care here in Carmarthenshire but also across the UK. We want the local community to know that, in line with the latest government and health guidelines, we are now open for eye and hearing tests by appointment again and would urge anyone who has missed a test for either to get in touch.

‘Anyone unable to attend a store can access care and support through our RemoteCare video and telephone consultation service, or our 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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