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How Wales has changed its eye care system

Optometrist with patient looking at his eyes on the computer screen
Photo taken before COVID-19

The Welsh Government has so far retained the same basic NHS sight test fee and eligibility rules as England and Northern Ireland. But on top of that it has created an additional service: Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW). It is optional for optical practices to be part of this service, but the vast majority are. Patients are encouraged to attend an optical practice offering EHEW for any problem with their eyes8.

EHEW provides funding for optometrists to provide care over and above the NHS sight test in three bands:

Band one

For patients with acute eye problems of an acute nature, those who would find losing their sight particularly difficult or those who are at increased risk of developing sight threatening conditions. It can also be used to accept referrals from another healthcare provider.

Band two - Further investigation/ examinations

These examinations enable patients to have additional investigations following a GOS or Private sight test only. They can only be used to further inform or prevent onward referral to the hospital eye service.

Band three - EHEW follow-up examination

A Band three examination enables a follow-up after a patient has had an initial appointment for an EHEW Band one examination or for a post-operative cataract check.

Wales is the only UK nation with a comprehensive community Low Vision Service10. It is set up to assess and assist people with low vision, including through the provision of low vision aids.

8www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/eye-health-examination-wales
9www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/ehew
10www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/low-vision-service-wales