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Ophthalmic Services
NHS-Photo-Library: An eye examination. Ophthalmic treatment. A woman looking through the eye piece of an instrument, into the open eye of a patient with her chin on a rest, and eyes open. Restrictions: Copyright: ©

Ophthalmic Services

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has contracts with over 250 ophthalmic practices across the region to provide general ophthalmic services for Health Service patients. The HSCB also plans and develops a range of special enhanced services to help manage increasing demands for eye health services.

On this page you will find information on service developments in eye health, and  links to information and advice on eye health and care services.

Northern Ireland Eyecare Network (NIEN)

The Northern Ireland Eyecare Network is the successor to the very successful five-year Developing Eyecare Partnerships (DEP) Project, which was implemented in 2012 to improve how eyecare services were commissioned and delivered in Northern Ireland. RQIA published a review of the implementation of the DEP Strategy in October 2019 and recommended that the Department of Health should establish an Eyecare Network, hosted by the Health and Social Care Board, to continue the work commenced by the DEP Project. The Eyecare Network’s aim is “to reduce preventable sight loss by ensuring regionally integrated planning, commissioning, delivery, performance management, and funding of eyecare in Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Ireland Eyecare Network was formally constituted in January 2021, following recommendations from the RQIA review of the Developing Eyecare Partnerships Project.

The Network is hosted by the Health and Social Care Board with leadership from:

The Network reports, via its Chair, to the HSC Board Senior Management Team and Rebuilding Management Board.

The principle aim of the NI Eyecare Network is:

“To reduce preventable sight loss by ensuring regionally integrated planning, commissioning, delivery, performance management, and funding of eyecare in Northern Ireland.”

Workstreams have been developed to focus on:

  1. Clinical pathways
  2. Prevention of sight loss/early intervention
  3. Quality
  4. Workforce
  5. Digital health

The Network has agreed a lean systems methodology whereby each workstream will bring together small, focussed, task and finish groups to deliver targeted service improvements efficiently. There will not be a static Network/workstream ‘membership’ but professionals from across the health and social care system, patients, and other stakeholders will be involved fluidly in individual pieces of work, wherever they can make a contribution.

Information about eye care professionals

There are a range of professionals involved in looking after your eye health including, optometrists, dispensing opticians and other staff. Find out more about eye-care professionals.

Your eye health is important

It is important that you consider your eye health as you do for the rest of your body.

Many eye conditions and problems are linked to other medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Smoking is linked to eye disease and sight loss, with smokers being four times more likely to have macular degeneration. Loss of sight is something which we all fear and want to avoid.

What to expect from an eye test

Find out what is involved in an eye test from this short video –

Could you be entitled to free Health Service sight tests?

If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, or if you have a close family relative with glaucoma you may be eligible for free Health Service sight tests.  You can check eligibility for these services on the Business Services Organisation website

More useful links

Eye care | nidirect