Your eyes are probably the most complex organs in your body, yet it’s easy to neglect them because they rarely hurt when there’s a problem. For those experiencing eye health problems, the first port of call has traditionally been a GP’s surgery, a hospital or a pharmacy, but not necessarily a local opticians.
However, in Merthyr Tydfil, anyone who experiences pain, discomfort, redness, sudden changes or flashes of light in their vision, amongst other symptoms, can visit their optician for advice and have a bespoke test from experts in eye health – an optometrist. What’s more, it’s free if you’re registered with a GP.
This is all down to an initiative from the Welsh Government called the Wales Eye Care Services (WECS) programme.
This sees opticians across the country deliver primary eyecare services on behalf of the NHS in the form of targeted clinical tests, known as Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW). This is a more in-depth investigation to a routine eye examination as the optometrist will use different tests and equipment depending on the individual’s symptoms in order to get to the real root cause of the problem.
Its aim is to reduce unnecessary visits to hospital and to enable people in Merthyr Tydfil to access high-quality care within the local community.
Meeting high standards
Peter Render, store director at Specsavers in Merthyr Tydfil, said: ‘Specsavers in Merthyr Tydfil is proud to be Eye Health Examination Wales-accredited optometrists, meeting the stringent standards set by the Wales Optometric Postgraduate Centre (WOPEC), which optometrists must meet to be eligible to deliver WECS services. This means that anyone experiencing problems with their eyes can visit us for immediate testing and professional advice as opposed to waiting for a GP appointment or queuing up at A&E.
‘By making more eyecare services easily accessible in Merthyr Tydfil, we can help the minute someone suspects they have an issue, which could potentially prevent a person from suffering long term or irreversible damage to their sight.’