High street opticians deal with huge demand as services reopen

Posted by
editor@newrytimes.com
Friday, August 7th, 2020
Community

More than 25,000 eye care appointments were offered by optometrists across Northern Ireland in July as part of phase one of the re-opening of services, double the originally anticipated figure of 12,200.

 

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These appointments included routine and urgent eye tests and were offered first to those with the most urgent need, including eye care conditions such as loss of vision, educational and occupational visual needs, and post-operative care.

Phase two of the return of primary care ophthalmic services began on 3 August and this means that, although patients with the most urgent need will continue to be prioritised, reminders for routine eye examinations can be now be issued.

 

 

Phase 2 includes the main elements of routine eye care, including eye examinations and ophthalmic dispensing and the provision of enhanced services.

Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services at the Health and Social Care Board said, “The increase in the number of appointments offered and taken up in the first phase of re-opening high street optometry services is a tribute to the work that has been done to adopt infection control procedures such as social distancing, extra cleaning, and use of personal protective equipment.

“Services are now being delivered as safely as possible and this has led to increased patient confidence about attending appointments,” he added.

The majority of optometrists will continue to offer remote or virtual acute eye consultations where possible, seeing patients face-to-face where necessary.

Across Northern Ireland, there are approximately 500 optometrists, 75 dispensing opticians and 1,000 ophthalmic support staff.

 

 

There are three phases to the return of routine ophthalmic services:

Phase 1 (June 2020)

All community optometrists to open and start seeing most urgent patients, via phone or video or if safe, in person.

No reminders for routine eye test appointments; these will be offered on the basis of need and symptoms.

The Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Service (NI PEARS) Enhanced Service to be reinstated.

The Glaucoma Care Pathway Enhanced Services which manages patients closer to home, reducing the need for hospital referrals or attendances will restart.

Phase 2 (3 August 2020)

Re-introduce the use of non-contact Tonometry, a device using a small puff of air to measure the pressure inside a patient’s eyes, following expert advice and recommendation.

Reminders for routine eye examinations can be issued.

 

 

Phase 3

Resume domiciliary eye care provision.

Due to the higher level of COVID–19 risk, it is anticipated that this will initially be symptom-led eye examinations in patients’ own homes.

This will be followed by visits to care homes or supported living setting, with consideration given to published guidance, risks, the reduction of footfall and the homes’ own risk assessment in relation to visiting.

Re-introduction of the use of Alger brushes, a tool used to remove small, foreign bodies from a patient’s eye.

Resume the work of the Northern Ireland Eyecare Network, to rebuild and transform eye care services across primary, community, and hospital-delivered care.

 

Tall Paul Marketing, Freelance Northern Ireland Copywriter, Blog Writer, Content Writer, Blog Writer, Content Writer

 

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