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Monday, 30 September 2019

Eyecare leaders have announced the establishment of Scottish Eyecare for Everyone (SEE) – a nationwide network and forum for the advancement of eye health in Scotland.

The move comes on the back of an eyecare policy event held at the University of Aberdeen on Wednesday 25 September to mark National Eye Health Week.

The workshop and round table event, entitled ‘Spotlight on Scotland's Eye Health – breaking down barriers and collaborating for a more inclusive future’ aimed to examine the impact and future of community eyecare.

Jointly organised by Optometry Scotland (OS) and Dr Alexandros Zangelidis, Head of Economics at the University’s Business School, it brought together representatives from the Scottish Government, NHS, RNIB Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and Aberdeenshire Visual Impairment to discuss and debate.

The message was clear: while Scotland’s primary eyecare services are world-leading, consideration of how to safeguard, develop and promote them are key to the future delivery of the nation’s eye health.

SEE will enable the group of key eye health stakeholders to collaborate and act to tackle these and other eyecare issues on an ongoing basis.

At the event, Dr Zangelidis gave a presentation on his published University of Aberdeen research papers on Scottish eyecare from 2012, 2016 and 2018, which examine the socioeconomic imbalance in uptake of the free NHS-funded eye examination across Scotland and the potential for eye examinations to aid early detection of wider health issues.

Frank Munro, Optometry Scotland’s Clinical Advisor, discussed OS’s recently published ‘GOS Works’ report which showed how, since 2006, Scottish community optometry services have transformed the balance of primary and secondary eyecare, saving the NHS over £71million in a year by easing pressure on hospital ophthalmology.

Dr Zangelidis said: “It’s clear Scotland is leading the way in eyecare and great strides have been made in community optometry since the introduction of the free NHS funded eye exam. However our research, and our discussions at this event, indicate that greater inclusivity and awareness is needed to reach the segments of society that are economically more vulnerable, with lower uptake of health care services.

“This will be just one of the key issues that SEE will seek to address – already we have ideas for targeted awareness-raising measures, and we look forward to seeing these ideas come to life through the work of SEE.”

Frank Munro said: “Pressure on secondary care services means many hospital eye departments are working to capacity – it’s vital that we now ask how community eyecare can be further refined, what more can be done to encourage joint working between primary and secondary care, and what else can be done to improve the current GOS arrangements to secure the future of Scotland’s eye health.

“Today’s event has acted as springboard for a more collaborative approach to tackling these issues, and we are energised by the potential of SEE to help us collectively advance world class eyecare in Scotland.”

RNIB Scotland also delivered a presentation at the event on accessible health information for blind and partially sighted people.

Senior Policy Officer (Health and Social Care) at RNIB Scotland, Laura Jones, said: “Patients rely on good communication to ensure they understand their health information and needs. But all too often, blind and partially sighted people are being left with information that is inaccessible.

“Having access to and understanding information on eye healthcare, and other healthcare services, is essential – around 170,000 people in Scotland have significant sight loss so the need for accessibility is high.”

She added: “Demand for healthcare services continues to increase and more people are waiting longer to be seen. Ongoing challenges facing the NHS include increasing costs and growing demand, with these challenges continuing to intensify. Giving patients inaccessible information is only adding to this burden. We look forward to participating in SEE to help address this, and other challenges, which face blind and partially sighted people in Scotland.”



Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Optometry Scotland.



About Optometry Scotland

Optometry Scotland is a non-profit making organisation established to develop and represent the views of the entire Optometry sector of Optometrists, Dispensing Opticians and Optical Bodies Corporate to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government Health Directorates and other relevant stakeholders.

Our aim is to develop, maintain and promote and world class eye health and primary eyecare service for the people of Scotland.