Local SNP MSP, Michael Matheson, has welcomed the announcement by Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP that free eye examinations are to continue in Scotland, with a review of community optometry services to make further improvements.

The review will consider the role that community eye services play within the wider NHS and whether more can be done to improve the level of care for patients.
It comes a decade on from the successful introduction of free NHS eye examinations, which has seen a 29% increase in the number of tests carried out since 2006.

Over two million eye examinations a year are now carried out in Scotland, providing both a sight test and an eye health check that can identify treatable conditions at an early stage in their development.

Announcing the review, Ms Robison said:

“The free NHS eye examination has proven to be hugely successful in encouraging more people to attend their local optometrist – with over a half a million more people a year now getting an eye exam than in 2006.

“We also want to use the opportunity of the review to learn more about which patients are taking up the offer of the free eye examination and whether more can be done to reduce health inequalities by encouraging uptake amongst vulnerable groups or in deprived areas.”

Welcoming the announcement, Michael Matheson MSP added:

“Community eye-care services play a vital role in delivering these tests and will become even more important as we face the challenges of an ageing population, with more sight threatening conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma.

“With this in mind, my colleagues and I in the SNP and the Scottish Government remain committed to the provision of free NHS eye examinations, and this review will not change this.

“Ten years on, the time is now right to look again at how our community eye-care services are working – particularly in the context of the developments we are making to primary care. I would therefore encourage everyone who has had some experience of these services to contribute to this review process.”

The review is scheduled to report to Scottish Ministers by the end of the year. Anyone who wishes to share their view on current community eyecare services in Scotland can do so by contacting the Review team by email at the following address: nhseyecarereview@gov.scot