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Health board calls on people with eye problems to visit Optometrist rather than GP

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A West Wales health board is calling for patients who have emergency problems with their eyes to visit their local Opticians and Optometrist.

Hywel Dda University Health Board says that skilled Optometrists are on-hand to offer advice and treatment rather than patients needing to contact their GP or attend an accident and emergency department.

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The health board, which covers Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion wants to highlight the value of community Optometrists and how they do so much more than help their patients choose the right pair of glasses.

It says that Optometrists can deal with emergency treatments including treating objects in the eye and other minor eye injuries. Your Optometrist can also detect and treat a number of eye conditions.

Scott Thomas from Llandyfaelog suffered discomfort from an alkaline chemical injury to one of his eyes while in work last year and on the advice of his wife, visited his local optician, Loveleen Browes Opticians in Burry Port. He was seen on the same day as the incident and his eye was treated straight away. He had a follow-up appointment 48 hours after the incident, there was an out-of-hours contact provided if he needed it and the treatment resulted in his vision being restored perfectly.

Loveleen Browes Opticians is one of ten practices within the Hywel Dda area that are able to treat patients under the Independent Prescribing Optometric Service, otherwise known as IPOS. This service allows Optometrists to prescribe medication to treat a range of eye conditions in primary care, which would have previously required a referral to the hospital eye service.

Scott said, “I would advise anyone who has an injury to their eyes to definitely contact their local Opticians as soon as possible. If it wasn’t for them and how they were able to see me as quick as they did, I don’t think I would have much of my eyesight left. I’m so grateful to Loveleen Browes Opticians in Burry Port for saving my eyesight.”

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Loveleen Browes Opticians in Burry Port

Rebecca, from Pembrey, another patient with Loveleen Browes Opticians, suffers from a condition called blepharitis which was affecting her quality of life as both her eyes were swelling, sore, itchy, red and over-watering, causing her vision to deteriorate during a flare up. Rebecca explained how the Optometrist got to know her eyes and offered treatment with medication and lid care products as well as reassuring support.

As part of the Help Us Help You campaign, the Welsh Government wants you to know that although the way you access NHS services has changed, it is still here for you. Get to know the different ways you can access the NHS by checking online through the NHS 111 Wales website, so you can get the right care at the right time, in the right place. Community eye care covers a spectrum of symptoms that many people may go to their GP for such as red eye, a painful eye, double vision and a foreign body in the eye.

Rachel Absalom, Head of Optometric Services, Hywel Dda University Health Board / Low Vision Wales, said: “Whether you are looking for a routine eye examination or you have eye related symptoms that require further and enhanced investigation, then your community Optometrist should be your first port of call. Your Optometrist has the knowledge, expertise, skills and equipment to help diagnose and manage eye conditions.

“If you have acute symptoms such as loss of vision, flashes and floaters, red eye, painful eye, foreign body in the eye to name but a few, then visit your optometrist who can potentially see you as an emergency under the Eye Health Examination Wales scheme.”

The 10 Opticians in Hywel Dda area able to treat patients under the Independent prescribing Optometric System

Evans and Hughes Opticians – Ammanford
Evans and Hughes Opticians – Llandeilo
Evans and Hughes Opticians – Lampeter
Evans and Hughes Opticians – Llandovery
Probert and Williams Opticians – Aberystwyth
Jones and Murphy Opticians – Carmarthen
Loveleen Browes Opticians – Burry Port
Specsavers Opticians – Haverfordwest
Specsavers Opticians – Llanelli
Specsavers Opticians – Ammanford

To find your nearest Optometrist, visit: http://www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/home

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