When asked who to contact for pain or redness in the eye, 60% of people said their GP, yet an Optometrist is a specialist for the eyes and is experienced in treating eye conditions.
If you are suffering from any of the following eye conditions you don’t need to visit your GP but should book an appointment with an Optometrist – they are best placed to provide advice and treatment.
-Red, watery, sticky, itchy or irritable eyes
-Foreign body sensation
-Flashing lights or floaters
-Eyelid lumps and bumps
A visit to your Opticians is not just to check your vision for glasses and contact lenses, but will also check your overall eye health and can identify problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and even tumours.
You should have your eyes tested at least every two years. Your Optometrist will advise if you need more frequent checks, for example if you have diabetes or other eye conditions.
A visit to an optometrist is free if:
-You’re 16 or under
-You’re a full time student aged 16,17 or 18
-You’re over 60
-You’re on certain benefits (Income Support, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credit, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance)
-If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses through the NHS Low Income Scheme. Visit the Help With Health Costs website for more information.
* In Wales most optometrists can also offer a free eye test if:
-You have an eye problem that needs urgent attention
-You have sight in one eye only
-You have a hearing impairment and are profoundly deaf
-You suffer from retinitis pigmentosa
-You are of Black or Asian ethnicity
-You are at risk of eye disease because you are the genetic father, mother, sibling or child of someone with an eye disease that can be inherited, such as Glaucoma, Diabetes Mellitus, Age related Macular Degeneration or Retinitis Pigmentosa
-Your have seen your GP and they want you to see an optometrist
You can check the list of optometrists that can provide this additional service by using the search page.
Emergencies or if you have an eye problem that needs urgent attention
If you have any concerns at all about your eyes, see a High Street optician straightaway. He or she will tell you if you are eligible for a free eye health examination. This examination is known as Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW). Some eye diseases can lead to blindness or some loss of vision, but if detected early enough, your eyesight can often be saved.
An Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) is just that – an examination of the health of your eyes. The optometrist will carefully examine your eyes to see if anything is wrong. The tests and equipment they use will depend on what you tell them and what they find. An eye health examination is more in-depth than and different to a routine vision test, so it may take longer.
If the optometrist decides you need an eye health examination, it won’t cost you anything.
You can find an optometrist in most High Streets in Wales. If you have a sight problem, you can go to your existing optometrist (if you have one) or just phone or walk into any practice that is convenient for you to get to. You can find a list of optometrists who can provide which you can search by postcode or area.