A shared care scheme means that your ophthalmologist may share the care of your eyes with another practitioner in your local community. You may, for example, have regular checks for diabetic eye disease at a high street optical practice. Professionals involved in shared care may have had extra training to take part in the scheme.
You may be able to get eyecare nearer to home, more choice of appointment time, and with less of a wait for your appointment. The NHS saves money and frees up critical hospital appointments by sharing out care with trained community practitioners.
Shared care schemes vary by area. Depending on where you live, you might be able to have local care for squint (strabismus), glaucoma, flashes and floaters, external eye disease, diplopia (double vision), cataract and macular degeneration (ARMD/AMD).
A Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) allows a trained practitioner working in your local optical practice to assess your eye problems. You might find this service useful if you have a red eye, for example. The service aims to ensure that you get seen more promptly than you might if you go to A&E. You will see a practitioner who specialises in eyes, who is able to give you advice and recommendations there and then, and who will refer you to the hospital if you need it. The NHS saves money and frees up critical hospital appointments by sharing out care with trained community practitioners. This scheme may have a different name in your area. The appointment is paid for by the NHS. It is not the same as a sight test, which examines the health of your eyes AND checks your spectacle prescription.
You can contact your locals MECS if you have a sudden loss of vision or blurred vision. The practitioner can assess you if you have pain or discomfort in your eye, or a red eye. They can also assist if you have a foreign body in the eye, an ingrowing eyelash lumps and bumps in the vicinity of the eye. A MECS will also assess you for recent onset of double vision, or if you see flashing lights or dots or shadows in your vision.
The Welsh Eye Care Initiative (WECI) incorporates both the Welsh Eye Health Examination scheme (WEHE), which is an extended sight test, and the Primary Eye Care Acute Referral Scheme (PEARS) which allows the optometrist to assess patients for minor eye problems, as well as Low Vision, Diabetic Retinopathy Screening, Glaucoma Co-management, a Primary Care Cataract Post-Operative Service and Children’s Screening. Not all practices will offer all services so call to find out.
Optical practices in some parts of Scotland can be part of their local Eye Health Network Scheme whereby optometrists can offer an appointment and assessment service for any concerns you may have with the health of your eyes or minor eye injuries. Optometrists must undergo extra & ongoing training to be part of this type of scheme. They will assess your problem and either manage it in practice or refer you on for hospital care. The types of condition that can be dealt with include red eye, sore or painful eyes, or problems with worsening eyesight.
In addition to sight tests and the provision of optical appliances, optometrists may also be approved by the HSCB in Northern Ireland to provide enhanced services. These services may be provided if your optometrist notes specific findings when they examine your eyes, e.g. raised eye pressure, or detects other signs of a condition called ‘glaucoma’. Enhanced services enable the optometrist to undertake additional or repeat tests to better determine the status of your eye health. Your optometrist will advise you if you require these additional or repeat tests.