Widen the prescribing powers of all optometrists

Our recommendation on prescribing entry level medications

Optometrist at practice

Allowing optometrists to provide medications for eye conditions they are already qualified to treat will alleviate pressure on GPs, hospital eye departments and A&Es, as well as making it easier for patients.

The current list of medications that optometrists can use is outdated and has not been revised since 2005. It also does not reflect the clinical expertise and training of optometrists. As a result, optometrists are restricted in what they can provide and often have to redirect the patient to their GP so that they can be given simple medications such as anti-allergy drops, anti-microbials, or anti-inflammatory medicines. Anti-infective eye preparations were prescribed by GPs 1.35m times between December 2022 and November 2023.  This equates to a cost of more than £56m in GP consultations to the NHS in anti-infective eye preparations alone.

Our recommendation

The next government should widen the prescribing powers of optometrists by updating the ‘entry level exemptions’ list of medications. This legislative change, coupled with a national approach to MECS and CUES, would revolutionise the eye care experience for patients and drive down pressure on GPs, hospital eye departments and A&Es.