The team at Specsavers in Ashbourne is campaigning for accessible community eyecare and raising awareness during National Eye Health Week (24-30 September), to combat the growing numbers of those in the region with preventable eye conditions.

Research by the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) has revealed that there are rising numbers of those suffering from eye conditions which would have been preventable through a simple eye test.

In Derbyshire, the research shows there are already 67,030 people with preventable sight loss conditions of AMD, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, with the number expected to climb.[1]

‘We’re very concerned about these statistics,’ commented Specsavers Ashbourne store director, Andrew Wells. ‘From a more detailed look, the findings are highlighting the reasons why people in the area are choosing not to have their eyes tested. Many people are only visiting the opticians when their symptoms reach a critical point and this presents a huge risk, as there are several preventable conditions, such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, which are symptomless in their early stages.

‘It’s a real concern that people in the community would wait until their day-to-day life has been affected, sometimes leading to customers being referred to hospital or their GP with a more serious condition.’

Free eye tests

National Eye Health Week provides the perfect opportunity to take a look at the state of the region’s eye health and ensure that those in Ashbourne are receiving the best possible eye care. Specsavers in Ashbourne are using the week to highlight the importance of regular eye tests.

‘We recommend that you have your eyes tested every two years,’ said Andrew. ‘This helps optometrists to build up a picture of how your eyes are changing over time so that any deterioration or anomalies can be picked up quickly and before they progress into anything serious.’

Specsavers in Ashbourne has been offering free eye tests throughout the summer, to help those in the community that aren’t accessing this vital service due to cost.

‘We’ve tried to make it easier for those worried about the price of an eye test by doing away with all charges in store,’ explained Andrew. ‘We’re continuing with this campaign throughout National Eye Health Week as it’s proved very popular this summer, to ensure that everyone within our local community can have access to this service for free.’

Advanced training

The team at Specsavers in Ashbourne are working with the RNIB to ensure that staff training and knowledge is at the highest level to be able to accommodate all levels of sight loss and eye conditions.

The store offers Enhanced Optical Services (EOS), with clinics designed for those seeking help for less serious eye problems for which there may be a longer wait for a GP appointment. This includes any symptoms, such as blurred, distorted or interrupted vision, or red eye, flashes, floaters, lid lumps, foreign bodies or painful, itchy or dry eyes.

Optometrists at the store, including store optometrist director Andrew and optometrist Tom Price, have undergone specialist accreditation training in minor eye conditions, glaucoma refinement and cataract schemes to ensure that they are offering a high standard of clinical care.

‘Our enhanced training allows us to analyse how the eyes are functioning, while monitoring for any other health issues, including conditions like cataracts, high blood pressure and diabetic retinopathy,’ explained Andrew. ‘Minor eye conditions including dry eye, blepharitis and floaters in the vision can also be picked up and treated.’

The highest-grade tech

Specsavers in Ashbourne have invested more than £30,000 in their high-tech equipment, including the latest cutting-edge Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). This allows a more advanced insight into the different layers of the eye, providing a 3D image which the optician can use to identify any abnormalities.

‘Our OCT machine is the same technology that is used in hospital ophthalmology wards,’ explained Andrew. ‘It’s a highly sophisticated machine which allows us to see exactly what is going on with a customer’s eye, and the area around it, in minute detail. At many eye hospitals, there is a significant waiting time to access this service, so there is an added bonus for customers that come to us for an eye test.

‘We would like to urge everyone in Ashbourne to book an eye test this National Eye Health Week and we look forward to welcoming you into store.’

For all Ashbourne store information