For the first time in the UK, people with vision impairment will access certification of vision impairment in primary care optometry. Optometrists with relevant qualifications working in Wales can now complete certificates of vision impairment for people with bilateral dry age-related macular degeneration.
Rebecca Bartlett, National Clinical Lead for Wales General Ophthalmic Services said, “We are thrilled that this NHS Wales service is now live. We expect an immediate increase in the number of people accessing certification and the important related support registration brings. We also expect to see a reduction in referrals to hospital eye services which will free up vital appointment slots for other people whose eye conditions need to be seen in this setting.
“The certification of vision impairment in primary care is backed by research performed by Cardiff University (Agreement between ophthalmologists and optometrists in the certification of vision impairment | Eye (nature.com)). This showed comparable agreement between consultant ophthalmologists and LVSW optometrists in the identification of certification eligibility criteria for people with vision impairment and provided evidence to support policy change.
“The introduction of certification of vision impairment in primary care has been driven by the Welsh Government’s optometry contract reform programme that will see the range of NHS-funded eye care services provided by optometrists and dispensing opticians in Wales increased, with each member of the practice team collaborating to work at the top of their respective clinical licence.”
Owen Williams, Director of Wales Council of the Blind said, “We are delighted that Certificates of Vision Impairment can now be issued on the high street for patients with bi-lateral dry AMD. The certificate is a crucial document that opens the door to additional support, welfare benefits, financial concessions and services in social care, the third sector, and elsewhere. By avoiding hospital delays, support of this kind can now be delivered more quickly, helping the patient maintain their independence and avoid the downward spiral into vulnerability, debt, and dependency.
“WCB are keen to see more hospital eye services delivered in primary care optometry practices where it is safe to do so, providing patients with a convenient and timely alternative to hospital-based services.”
Optometrists in Wales can find out more about participating in the services at Professionals – NHS Wales.
Posted on the 30th of June 2023
About Sight Life
Sight Life (formerly Cardiff Institute for the Blind) supports people who are blind or partially sighted in south Wales. In 2020/21 we helped more than 3,000 people in Cardiff, Swansea, RCT (Rhondda Cynon Taf), Neath and Port Talbot.
We provide statutory services to people with sight loss on behalf of the local Councils in Cardiff and Swansea.
In cooperation with the NHS, we provide a support service (ECLO: Eye Clinic Liaison Officer) for patients newly diagnosed with sight loss in University Hospital of Wales (UHW “The Heath”) in Cardiff.
Our aims are to ensure that people with sight loss can take part in all aspects of society, including work and leisure.
We offer a range of training, clubs and activities including audio-described theatre trips, confidence building, cooking, drama, employment support, fitness, gardening, IT, music, photography, rambling and yoga to people with sight loss.
Established in 1865, we are one of Wales’ oldest charities. In spring 2022 we returned to being an independent charity after being part of the UK wide RNIB Group since 2009.
We have approximately a dozen staff and annual income in the region of £440,000 from statutory contracts, grants, trusts, The National Lottery, donations and legacies.
Sight Life changed its name from Cardiff Institute for the Blind in 2019 to reflect the fact that we work beyond Cardiff, including Swansea and RCT (Rhondda Cynon Taf). The name change also recognises the fact that we support people with any degree of sight loss, not only those who are blind.
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