Optometrists in Scotland recognised

Scottish Government praise the “vital” role that optometrists play in detecting and diagnosing eye problems

Eye test

The work of optometrists in Scotland has been praised following a review of eye care services by the Scottish Government.

Published on 19 April, the Community Eye Care Review was commissioned by health secretary Shona Robison and marks 10 years since eye examinations became universally funded by the NHS across Scotland.

Chaired by Hamish Wilson, the review aimed to explore how care is currently provided by community optometrists, as well as how it could be developed and enhanced in the future. Its findings recommend a range of schemes in order to reduce geographical differences in the services that are offered, as well as more “tailored arrangements” for patients with specific complex needs to access care closer to home.

The review goes on to suggest that some eye services that are traditionally offered in the hospital setting, such as post-cataract surgery and managing stable glaucoma, could and should be made available locally, which it highlights is already happening in some parts of Scotland.

Optometry Scotland welcomed the report’s findings and the recognition that it gives optometrists in Scotland for the role they play in the detection, diagnosis and prevention of eye conditions. The organisation pledged to work closely with the Scottish Government to establish an implementation plan and the resource allocation needed to enable patients to be “put in the centre of their own care and a shift to a more accessible and less disjointed journey,” it said. 

Further recommendations made in the report encourage localised campaigns to promote the importance of eye tests, the creation of a national list of optometrists and dispensing opticians, better monitoring and coordination of optometry in care homes, and more extensive provision of aids to help people with low vision.

Reflecting on the report, optometrist and independent practice owner, Ian Cameron, told OT: “There is much to welcome in the report, with good recommendations on restructuring general ophthalmic services around clinical judgement and not box ticking, improving the primary and secondary care interface, and moving services safely into the community from hospital. Our profession has been pushing for this for years and it feels as though we might have finally turned the tide in our favour.”

However, Mr Cameron added: “It is of course easy to say that these recommendations don’t go far enough and it’s true they don’t. Far greater impetus needs to come from ophthalmology to move the patients out of secondary care.”