FAQs & ADVICE
ABOUT OUR APPOINTMENTS
Accepting new and existing NHS patients
You have been private for over a year but notice you now offer NHS tests. What is the difference ?
Our standard NHS test (providing eligibility criteria are met) doesn’t come with any retinal imaging - either OCT 3D macular scan or an Optomap wide field retinal scan unless you upgrade and pay the difference. If you are over 60 it likely will be necessary to have dilation drops inserted to allow the optician to get an adequate view of the retina. This means you will not be able to drive to the appointment or for at least 4 hours afterwards. In the majority of patients, the Optomap retinal scan and 3D OCT scan work without dilation drops so if you upgrade to one of the enhanced tests or eye care plan we most likely can do the test without dilation drops being needed.
Since July 2020 the Optomap and OCT scans have proved invaluable to correctly identify and manage a host of eye and general health conditions.
Why do you now accept NHS patients whilst previously you didn’t?
All our opticians and staff have received both Covid vaccinations. The enhanced private tests we have done since July 2020 are privately funded with no additional fees paid to us for the imaging or equipment purchases. Without the imaging we felt we couldn’t do the test unless drops were instilled in most cases for patients over the age of 60. Previously we didn’t have the capacity or resources to do dilated examinations for over half our patients as these examinations will take longer to do and also for those that drive to their appointment may not be able to be completed on the day. We have employed another optician to meet appointment demand. We would expect the free tests without any imaging now to form a small part of our business, as patient feedback has showed the enhanced OCT and Optomap scans which can be done without drops are the preferred choice for the vast majority of our patients.
I am an NHS patient and I wish to have the free test. What can I expect?
We are happy to see NHS patients providing eligibility criteria is met. In most cases this means the interval period between the last sight test is 2 years, irrespective if the last test was private. (Please see link for NHS sight test eligibility and recall periods.) Anyone who wishes to be tested or examined outside their recall period will need to pay privately for their checks.
For patients over 60, drops to dilate the pupils will likely be needed to allow the examination of the eye to be conducted to the required standard.
Current Covid 19 rules prevent the Optometrist to use an Opthalmoscope which was the method of choice to examine the eye over the past 30 years. Therefore a slit lamp is needed to examine the retina which in most cases will only work if dilation drops are instilled otherwise the retinal view can be too impeded to allow a thorough examination.
What is the difference between the free NHS test, the Enhanced tests and the Eyecare plan?
The free NHS test
Is a one off examination, with no digital imaging and no digital record only available for patients that fulfil the NHS criteria. Drops likely will be needed for over 60’s.
The enhanced eye examination
“£60 (or £40 upgrade for NHS, £15 for under 18’s. will include an Optomap retinal scan which allows the optician to see approximately 85% of the retina in a single capture without the need for drops.
The enhanced eye examination plus OCT
£80 or (£60 upgrade for NHS, £35 under 18’s) also includes a 3D OCT scan which is useful in detecting and monitoring conditions such as macular degeneration.
The eye care plan
(£4.95 per month)
includes all the tests, scans and care which are clinically needed and you can return whenever needed to have repeat tests or scans at no further charge.
Also includes 10% off glasses and accessories.
What do I do if I am an NHS patient and have a problem with my eyes and I am not due a test?
Current rules under NHS general ophthalmic services (GOS) allow an eye exam at the correct recall period unless strict criteria apply. If symptoms such as red eyes or flashes and floaters need checking within recall, this would not fall within the category of an NHS eye test. We would recommend either the patient pay privately to have their eyes checked immediately with us, go to their GP or eye emergency, or we can advise which opticians may provide a PEARS service in the local area.
If there is a loss or change in vision the Optician may be able to claim back for the eye exam under the NHS however the Optician will not know if they can until the examination has been completed. If a patient is told by their GP to see their Optician for another NHS eye test within recall, this is allowed under NHS rules but we will need to write on the records the name of the GP and what has been recommended.
Please note that under NHS rules, we would need to complete the whole eye test again and not just investigate the symptoms.
If you are on our eye care plan we will see you as much needed under the £4.95 per month plan. This means we can act as the first point of call for any issues or concerns that arise within your recall period. On the £4.95 per month plan you will not be required to pay any more for any repeat checks or scans.
I have had my NHS test and it is recommended I have something monitored within my normal recall. What are the charges?
Any repeat tests or scans are not NHS funded. Repeat Optomap scans are charged at £30. If something shows on the scans which needs monitoring within the standard recall period, this does not come under conducting another NHS eye test. The options open to the optician will be a referral to hospital to allow monitoring there or recalling the patient for a private scan or follow up check at a cost of £30. Alternatively we offer the eye care plan which covers the cost of all appointments at the cost of £4.95 per month on direct debit.
I wish to have an NHS eye test. What do I need to bring?
The NHS now need to see proof of eligibility which means you will need to bring ID with your date of birth. If you are on benefits we need to see valid and in date proof of the benefits before we do the eye test. We also need to know the exact date of the last sight test- irrespective if this was paid for privately or not. Without the date of the last sight test we are unable to do the eye test as the NHS will not allow the sight test to be submitted for claim. If the date of the last sight test is within the accepted recall period of NHS patients you will be required to pay for the test unless you have a referral from your doctor or you meet other criteria. Please ask if in doubt before booking.
I wish to book an NHS test for a child. What is expected?
We can see children under the NHS providing the criteria are met. This means that unless exceptional circumstances the recall interval between the last test has to be over 1 year. For the ages 15 years and onwards, the recall category will be every 2 years (up to 18 years old providing in full time education).
Dilation drops unlikely to be needed as the pupil sizes in children tend to be larger than the over 60’s allowing the optician to get a good enough view of the eye in most circumstances. We offer the enhanced test for £15 upgrade which includes Optomap retinal imaging allowing the optician to see an larger and enhanced view of the retina and keeping a digital record.