Headlines: August 8th, 2006



The Department of Health has published proposals for consultation, which if agreed, would enable optometrists to prescribe medicines for certain eye conditions. Optometrists can already supply some medicines but these proposals will enable them to develop their services so that they can make the most of their specialist skills and also give patients more choice about where and from whom they get their treatment.

This could mean that more treatment can be delivered in a primary care setting. It would also allow optometrists to take on additional responsibilities and support modernisation of eye-care services by improving access choice and waiting times for patients.

Although many optometrists work in the high street, providing sight tests and prescribing glasses or contact lenses they are also employed directly by the NHS in the Hospital Eye Service where they work as part of a team of NHS professionals. In hospital, they will be able to play a key role in the clinical team, taking full responsibility for those patients whom they are competent to manage without the need to refer to the ophthalmologist simply because a medicine is needed.

Optometrists will receive additional training before they take on these important roles and, just like other prescribers, they will only work with the conditions which they are competent to manage.