Optical Express has expanded its domiciliary services to provide home eye tests for patients with complex disabilities and low vision.
The leading eye care provider already offers free home eye tests to patients, including care home residents, who cannot visit an optician due to disability or poor health.
Low vision and functional vision assessments are now also being offered to patients in the comfort of their home. Optical Express is the first eye care provider in Scotland to offer the services, which facilitate access to specialist support.
Low vision assessments are aimed at patients whose sight may be too poor to be corrected with glasses or contact lenses alone, and includes those suffering from age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa. A range of solutions are available including specialist magnifiers and task lighting.
It is estimated that nearly two million people in the UK and Ireland are affected by low vision.
Functional vision assessments are offered to patients who cannot undergo regular eye tests because of complex disabilities, which may limit their communications skills. Such patients are usually referred by carers or family members who suspect vision problems may be contributing to their difficulties.
Functional vision assessments are non-invasive and non-clinical, focusing instead on engaging the patient in practical tasks to assess perception of colour, optimum focal distance and contrast requirements.
At present, low vision assessments are usually carried out within specialist clinics while functional vision assessments are undertaken in the patient’s own home or care setting. Neither service, however, is widely available through the NHS or third sector.
Aine Scott, home care manager at Optical Express, said: “Optical Express is extremely pleased to be offering low and functional vision assessments to patients in their own homes.
“By making these tests more accessible we hope to speed up treatment and improve vulnerable patients’ quality of life.
“Many patients with complex needs are slipping through the net because they are classed as visually impaired without any real understanding of the extent of their remaining functional vision and how it can be best supported.
“While help is available for patients with low vision, it often involves waiting for a hospital appointment in order to be referred to a specialist clinic, so it could be quite some time before a patient can be assessed for a low vision aid.
“Everybody should have the opportunity to improve their sight.”
Optical Express’ home care services are available throughout Central Scotland, Ayrshire and Arran and Tayside. Health board areas covered are: NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Lothian, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Tayside.
The eye care provider is currently seeking approval to extend the scheme across NHS Grampian and NHS Dumfries and Galloway.