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Don't neglect your eyes by missing out on treatment

Optometrists in Scotland have collaborated with RNIB Scotland to produce a video explaining what blind and partially sighted people can expect when visiting their local optometry practice.

The video seeks to emphasise that new procedures in place will ensure the safety of anyone who needs to attend for examinations or treatment.

At present, visits to optometric practices (also known as opticians) are for emergency treatment only and must be pre-arranged. Otherwise, people are asked to phone their local practice which will decide if cases can be dealt with over the phone or via tablet or laptop.

In the video, Alastair Duff, an executive committee independent member of the professional body Optometry Scotland, explains that those who do need to attend in person will first be asked some questions to ensure they and the staff in the practice won't be put at risk.

"The measures that are in place in practices include social distancing and requesting patients not to speak when an optometrist is in close proximity," he says. "All staff will have personal protective equipment and consultation rooms will be disinfected after each visit.

"Spectacles and any other low vision aids will be delivered so patients won't have to come back into the practice."

Blind or partially sighted patients will be allowed to take a guide-dog or sighted guide with them as long as they let the practice know in advance. All other patients are asked to attend by themselves.

James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted health care across the board, so it's very reassuring that people, especially those with a visual impairment, can still access treatment in a safe environment.

"Maintaining eye-health remains as important as ever to detect any problems early enough to arrest or hopefully reverse any sight-threatening symptoms. Left untreated, some conditions could eventually result in permanent deterioration in sight, so we don't want anyone to neglect eye health."

It is expected that optometric practices will reopen to the general public in August depending on the advice given by the Scottish Government.