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Caithness News Bulletins April 2006

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  Caithness Opticians - G A Henderson &  G M O'Brien
Free NHS Eye Check Ups Return
Free NHS eye examinations will be introduced throughout Scotland from 1 April 2006 in a move hailed by Ministers as another major step forward in improving public health.

Not only will all eye examinations now be free, but the testing process is being broadened to provide a health assessment of each patient's whole visual system.

On a visit to an Aberdeen opticians with Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald, Deputy First Minster Nicol Stephen said:

"The introduction of free eye checks was a key commitment in the Partnership Agreement, and I am delighted that we are delivering such a comprehensive package for patients well ahead of our 2007 target.

"People throughout Scotland will now be able to access an eye examination which will be more comprehensive than the current eye tests most of us are familiar with - and it will be free of charge for all.

"Alongside other recent developments such as last week's smoking ban in public places, this Executive is putting in place significant measures to improve the health of all Scotland's people."

Mr Macdonald added:

"This is another important step forward for public health and preventative care. In all aspects of Scotland's health service, the Executive is determined to give patients access to quality, appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

"Eye care is an important element of our vision for improved public health, and the free service which will now be available is focussed on the needs of individuals and tailored to their symptoms. It will allow for the treatment of a wide range of conditions in the community."

Optometry Scotland Chairman Hal Rollason said: "Everyone in Scotland will benefit from this service and will be able to access eyecare that is appropriate to their needs in a setting as close to their home as possible.

"Optometry will be the pivotal point of a redesigned service working with ophthalmologists and orthoptists in hospital, and GPs and social workers in the community. This is truly a world class service for the benefit of everyone.

"The new eye examination will be the launch pad for many other developments over the next few years which push Scotland to the forefront, working towards the VISION 2020 declaration of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020".

The purpose of the current NHS sight test is to determine whether a patient requires glasses or contact lenses. The thrust of the new service as agreed with the optical profession is to move away from the current sight test with refraction, to broader health aspects.

From tomorrow, the new eye examination will be tailored to meet the symptoms and needs of the patient. This examination will be known as the 'Primary Eye Examination' and will include certain core tests and procedures as well as patient specific procedures.

The re-defined eye examination will:

  • Allow patients to receive an appropriate health assessment of their whole visual system
  • Give optometrists the professional freedom to perform the tests that are appropriate to patients' symptoms and needs
  • Allow for the management of a wide range of common conditions in the community

As part of the preparation for the introduction of the new eye examination, the Executive has provided each practice with funding of 8,000 for the provision of equipment necessary to carry out the new examinations.