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Sheffield service is a sight for sore eyes

Sheffield service is a sight for sore eyes
11 September 2013

Getting checked out for some types of eye problems is getting even easier in Sheffield with the expansion of the community eye service, which is welcome news for National Eye Health Week (16-22 September).

Known as PEARS – primary eyecare acute referral service – the service is now run by 35 optometrists covering all the city, which means that even more patients with certain non-sight threatening conditions can now be seen and treated near to where they live and at times more suitable to them.

Optometrists have always provided eye tests in the community but the PEARS service goes that bit further and offers diagnosis and treatment for some eye conditions which don’t threaten their sight.

Dr Richard Oliver, Joint Clinical Director at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Before PEARS was set up, patients with certain eye problems would be referred by their GP to the hospital, but through this service the GP can refer them direct to their nearest optometrist – some of which are open late nights and at weekends.

“Four years after the service was launched and we now have nearly double the amount of optometrists making it a much more convenient service and fitting in with our patients’ modern lifestyles.”

The PEARS service, which is run by accredited optometrists who are qualified to diagnose and treat the conditions is for patients over four-years-old. Patients are given an appointment within 48 hours of contacting the optometrist.

Where an optometrist feels the patient’s condition can’t be treated in the community, they will refer them direct to the hospital ophthalmology service. And all reports are sent back to their GP.

Rob Hughes, a PEARS accredited optometrist and Chair of the Local Optical Committee said "This service offers patients a quick, convenient way of having their minor eye problems treated, and to have other conditions more thoroughly examined to see if they really do need further treatment in the hospital. A recent patient survey showed a 100% satisfaction rate which is great news for the service and show how pleased patients are with it.”

Conditions commonly seen in the community under the PEARS scheme include dry eye, possible glaucoma, flashes and floaters which may represent posterior vitreous detachments and simple eye infections such as conjunctivitis and eyelid irritations.

Dr Oliver continued: “Sight is the sense people fear losing the most, yet many of us don't know the best way to look after our eyes. It's easy to neglect your eyes because they rarely hurt when there's a problem but regular eye tests and a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain good vision.

“It's recommended that you have a sight test every two years, or more frequently if advised, and to visit your optician or GP if you're concerned with any aspect of your vision at any time. A healthy lifestyle can also help such as not smoking, drinking alcohol within the recommended limits, eating healthily, exercising and protecting eyes from the sun.”

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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