Vouching for optical vouchers

New College of Optometrists report offers advice for practices on ensuring that eye care services reach everyone


More must be done to address the higher levels of uncorrected refractive error and undiagnosed eye disease of poorer socioeconomic groups, the College of Optometrists concludes in its new report.

The document, entitled See the Gap and released on 2 June, details a number of steps that optical organisations and individual practices can take to try to address inequalities in eye health.

College of Optometrists policy and strategy director, Jo Mullin, told OT that individual practices could help by boosting their local community’s awareness of NHS vouchers for eye exams, spectacles and contact lenses.

She explained: “Many people in deprived areas don’t like going to the optometrist [as] they think they’re going to have to fork out a lot of money they don’t have.”

This misconception had well-known damaging consequences for the nation’s eye health, she highlighted.

“There are a lot of people out there with uncorrected refractive error and undiagnosed disease that could be caught early. It would be great if we could help these people,” Ms Mullin emphasised.

In response to See the Gap, the College will hold a stakeholder meeting later in the year to organise the types of initiatives recommended in the report, she said.

The document also contains a number of case studies of optometrists with practices in low socioeconomic status areas. Ms Mullin said that these could also prove helpful to other practice owners.

The case studies, and the full report, are available on the College of Optometrists' website.