Independent opticians across the UK are helping to educate MPs about the importance of eye health and regular sight tests through practice visits supported by the Optical Confederation.
Earlier this month, Jim Shannon MP visited Telford Opticians in Newtownards, Northern Ireland where he met representatives of the Optical Confederation and Optometry Northern Ireland to discuss regular eye examinations and the enhanced role that community optometry can play in delivering eye care services.
In Northern Ireland, current enhanced services that are offered by optometrists include referral refinement for glaucoma and cataract, as well as a red eye pilot scheme in Armagh and Dungannon.
Work is also being done to create services for post-operative cataract care, and the management of conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Speaking about the visit, chair of Optometry Northern Ireland, David Barnes, said: “We all really enjoyed meeting Jim, and hearing of his interest in eye health. It was also great to talk about the extended role optometrists and opticians are playing in delivering eye care. In Northern Ireland we are working towards becoming the ‘GP for eyes’ to prevent people having to go to their GP.”
Back in England, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Rupa Huq, visited Hynes Optometrists (pictured) to speak to the owner and chair of Ealing and Hounslow local optical committee (LOC), Joy Hynes, about children’s eye care.
Meeting Ms Hynes and some of the practice’s young patients, Ms Huq said: “Of course, it’s essential that everyone has a regular sight test but I’m here to encourage parents and guardians to make sure that if their child has not had a recent sight test, [they should] book them in for one, as undiagnosed sight problems can have a negative impact on a child’s ability to perform well at school.”
Reiterating Ms Huq’s point, Ms Hynes added: “Parents and guardians need to be made more aware of the importance of regular eye care, as children may not realise that there is a problem with their vision. Children do not need to be able to read to have a sight test.”