Monday, 5 July 2010

MP joins local Opticians to stress importance of regular eye checks

Yvonne Fovargue MP joined local eye health professionals and patients at Gore & Hepworth Opticians in Ashton today, to raise awareness of the crucial importance that early detection through regular eye tests is in reducing the number of people with avoidable sight loss.

The Makerfield MP attaches great importance to eye health. She is short-sighted and has suffered from Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) causing tears to the retina in both eyes. She required laser treatment to correct the PVD.

The Borough has a low uptake of free NHS eye examinations for children under 16 and uptake amongst the adult population is low compared with the national average. Furthermore the Local Optical Committee is pressing for better provision for services for the visually impaired, more cameras for diabetic retinopathy screening and to utilise the skills of Optometrists to provide enhanced eyecare services in the community, reducing the need for hospital care.

Yvonne said, “I know from my personal experience just how important it is to take care of your eyes. Avoidable sight loss is a tragedy both for patients and the NHS, yet it can so easily be prevented through regular eye tests. A sight test can detect the early signs of conditions like glaucoma and, if diagnosed early, the right type of treatment could safeguard your sight. Eye examinations can also detect other conditions such as diabetes. Everyone should get their eyes tested every two years, and for some people this check-up is free, so ask your optometrist."

“I am grateful to Janet Green and the Local Optical Committee for the dedicated work they do and I will work with them to promote eye care in the Borough.”

“My message today is prevention is better than cure, so book an eye test today with a local optician and ensure you have an eye test at least once every two years.”

Janet Green, Chair of the Local Optical Committee said, “I can not stress enough the importance of a regular eye test for both good vision and health for all age groups. Half of all sight loss is preventable. With support, many of the experienced Optometrists in our Borough could ensure our community has eye care close to their home and an early appointment at the hospital if needed.”

You are entitled to a free sight test, paid for by the NHS, if:

• you are under 16 years of age,
• you are 16, 17, or 18, and in full-time education,
• you are 60 or over,
• you have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma,
• you are 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma,
• an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) has advised you that you’re at risk of glaucoma,
• you are registered as blind or
partially sighted,
• you are prescribed complex lenses – these are lenses with a power of 10 dioptres or more, or prism controlled bifocal lenses,
• your sight tests are usually done through a hospital eye department, as part of your care for an existing eye condition, or
• you are a war pensioner and you need the sight test because of a disability for which you get a war pension.

You are entitled to full help with health costs, including sight tests, if you or your partner receive:
• Income Support,
• Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance,
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
• Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

You can also get a free NHS sight test if you’re entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate. If you’re eligible for help with NHS costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme, you can claim some or all of the cost of sight tests for you, your partner and your children.