Isle of Man News - POSTED Wed 26-09-2018

Government scraps yearly eye tests

by TH

Government scraps yearly eye tests - picture

Free yearly eye tests are being scrapped by government.

Instead Island residents will be offered a test every two years – the change will come into effect from October 1st.

The change is part of the Eye Care Strategy developed by the Department of Health and Social Care in partnership with medical representatives, optometrists and the third sector.

Those with certain conditions will continue to have their sight monitored on an annual basis or more frequently if required.

The change is in line with College of Optometrists' recommendations and is supported by the Isle of Man Association of Optometrists and Registered Opticians.

Association Chairman Ian Hodgson said: “By extending the standard interval between sight tests from one to two years, we’re simply implementing best practice elsewhere in the British Isles.

“It became clear during consultation on the strategy that the change was overdue.

“In future people will be examined at the most appropriate intervals, freeing-up our capacity to help those with the greatest clinical need, and provide enhanced services like the Minor Eye Conditions Scheme.

“There’s no cause for concern, as those who need more regular tests will have them – there are many safeguards in the new regime.’

A number of other developments in eye care are in place or due to come on stream soon. 

A streamlined referral system allowing opticians to refer directly into Noble’s Hospital instead of via a patient’s GP.

A single waiting list has replaced individual consultant lists, reducing the wait for an appointment from 24 months to 13 months, with scope for further reductions in future.

Elsewhere, an up-skilling initiative to establish a nurse-led service is set to expand capability and meet growing demand in the ophthalmology department.  

A cohort of clinical nurse specialists is currently being trained to offer a range of services, including clinics and minor operations.

In the longer term there are plans to fund high street optometrists to care for people with minor eye conditions in the community and to carry out Diabetic Retinal Screening, relieving pressure on the hospital’s ophthalmology department.

“By extending the standard interval between sight tests from one to two years, we’re simply implementing best practice elsewhere in the British Isles.

Ian Hodgson, Association Chairman

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