There are a range of professionals involved in looking after your eye health including, optometrists, dispensing opticians and other staff:
Optometrists (Opticians) are qualified professionals who are trained to assess your vision and your eye health.
Optometrists examine all parts of your eyes and can detect many eye conditions and diseases. The vision assessment that optometrists perform includes:
Optometry practices may have an Independent Prescriber (IP) Optometrists, these are optometrists who can prescribe ophthalmic medications and, if required, can provide you with a prescription which you can take to your local pharmacy.
If an optometrist detects a problem with your eyes they may be able to manage it themselves or, they may refer you to another eye-care professional e.g. hospital eye service.
If you are unable to leave your home, some optometrists can provide an eye examination at home.
Dispensing opticians are trained professionals who can prescribe and fit spectacles, contact lenses, and low vision aids.
Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians must be registered with the General Optical Council. If you wish to check the registration of an optometrist or dispensing optician, visit the General Optical Council website.
In addition to sight tests and the provision of optical appliances such as spectacles and contact lenses, optometrists may also be approved by the HSCB to provide enhanced services.
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.
One of these enhanced services may be provided if your optometrist detects signs of a condition called ‘ocular hypertension’ or ‘glaucoma’ when they examine your eyes.
Some patients who may have previously attended the hospital eye service for monitoring of their condition (ocular hypertension) can now attend an optometrist in the community to have their condition reviewed and monitored, instead of travelling to a hospital eye clinic. Patients who are suitable for this service will be provided with information by their eye clinic staff. Please read and understand more about this service at the following link: Transforming eye care in the community.
Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare and Assessment Service (NI PEARS) is another optometry enhanced service for persons who have a new and sudden eye problem. NI PEARS is provided in the majority of optometry practices in Northern Ireland. For full information on this service click here.