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Optometric Public Health

The Optometric Public Health Team brings together optometric public health and primary care optometric practice advice and support for Health Boards, the Business Services Centre and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Team aims to:
  • Provide specialist optometric public heath advice and leadership on ocular health, optometric services and optometric policy and strategy 
  • Assess ocular health status and the needs and demands of local populations and advise on the monitoring of optometric service availability and outcomes and the assessment of the quality of service provision  
  • Advise on opportunities to manage the determinants of ocular health 
  • Advise on opportunities to detect ocular disease through screening and surveillance programmes
  • Advise on and promote the uptake of the Welsh Eye Health Examination by patients and by Welsh practitioners
  • Advise on and promote the uptake of emergency service provision via the Primary Eyecare and Referral Scheme by patients and by Welsh practitioners
  • Advise on and promote the uptake of The Welsh Low Vision Scheme by patients and by Welsh practitioners
  • Advise and support Welsh optometric independent prescribers and encourage Welsh practitioners to join the scheme
  • Support the commissioning of primary, intermediate, secondary and tertiary optometric services 
  • Advise on the promotion of ocular health through local policies to reduce inequalities, local ocular health action plans, Health, Social Care and Well-being Strategies and health promotion programmes.
  • Support research and training in the Specialty of Optometric Public Health
  • Liaise with the Post-Graduate Centre at Cardiff to promote continuous education and training for Welsh practitioners

Optometric Services in Wales

There are 853 registered Optometrists and 21 Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners that test sight and examine eyes in the Primary Care sector in Wales. These work across Wales in 522 practices. Of these, 127 practices are carrying out domiciliary visits to individuals at home and those living in places such as nursing homes.
There are 395 static practices in Wales providing on site testing of sight and eye examinations by contractor optometrists and Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners under the General Ophthalmic Services.
Since 2003-04 the number of sight tests paid for by the NHS has continued to increase with over 99% being carried out by optometrists. In 2009 a total of 734,800 sight tests were done and from those sight tests, 281,700 vouchers were used by patients who were eligible for help with the cost of spectacles.
The Welsh Assembly has introduced two schemes to improve eye care in Wales. Both of these have been running for several years and have shown that they have improved eye care in Wales enormously.
  • Primary Eyecare Acute Referral Scheme (PEARS)
This scheme is designed so that any patient who has a sudden eye problem can request a PEARS eye examination from a registered optometrist. This request can be from the patient themselves or via their General Practitioner.
This scheme enables patients in Wales to seek an urgent opinion about their eye condition and relieves the pressure on hospital A&E Departments.
More information can be found on the PEARS page of the Eye Care Wales website.
  • Welsh Eye Health Care
This is designed to target and help individuals or selected groups who are deemed to be at risk of developing eye problems because of their race, or family history. Research has shown that certain groups of people are much more likely to develop glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts and other related eye diseases.
This scheme also targets those who are hearing impaired in order to reduce the risk of additional sensory loss in such individuals.

Who’s Who

Peter Garwood B.SC (Hons) F.C.Optom., Dip.CLP
Telephone: 01495 332088

Useful links

More information on the Primary Eyecare Acute Referral Scheme can be found on the PEARS page of the Eye Care Wales website.
More information on Welsh Eye Health Care can be found on the Eye Care Wales website which also contains information on practitioners in different areas

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Last updated: 09 November 2010