Essential eye tests open up in England to deal with lockdown sight deterioration

(Last Updated On: June 2, 2020)

A THIRD of people in the UK have noticed a deterioration in their eyesight during lockdown, a survey by Specsavers has revealed.

The surprising results come as the Government’s easing of stay-at-home measures in England mean that people who have noticed any change at all in their sight during lockdown, or since their last eye test, can now book online for an in-store appointment at Specsavers.

Clinical services director Giles Edmonds says: ‘During lockdown many of us have been spending more time looking at screens, reading, or watching TV, which is likely to make people more aware of pre-existing sight conditions or the fact that their prescription may have changed. More screen time can also lead to eye strain and visual fatigue, which isn’t usually serious but could explain why so many people are reporting issues.’

From 1 June, Specsavers, whose stores have remained open throughout the pandemic for customers with urgent and essential needs, including frontline workers, can now care for more priority customers face-to-face, in line with sector guidelines. Customers booking an appointment online will be contacted by their local store by phone to discuss their sight concerns and make sure that coming in to store for a test is the best option for them.

If significant and serious deterioration of vision has been experienced recently by anyone, Specsavers still recommends phoning a local store immediately as it may need a more urgent store visit to undertake testing and investigation.

Customers wanting a routine eye test but not experiencing any changes to their sight currently will have to wait a little longer, as stores focus their attention on those with more immediate needs.

Mr Edmonds explains: ‘What was deemed as essential during the first phase of the pandemic has been expanded. This takes into account that many people experiencing problems with their sight during the lockdown period, but who were not considered urgent or essential cases at the time, may now require priority face-to-face care given the time that has elapsed.

‘The easing of stay at home measures in England will also see people venturing out again and relying more on their sight as they return to work. There will be those, too, who have been worried or had concerns about their eyes but who have been reluctant to come forward to see their optician during the peak of the virus while in lockdown and isolation.

‘The safety of our customers remains our ultimate priority and we have worked hard to put in place robust measures to create an uncompromisingly safe store environment and reassure our customers as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. As well as limiting the number of customers in store at any given time, social distancing, thorough disinfection of our stores, equipment and products, and full use of screening and medical grade PPE, are standard in all of our stores.

‘We would encourage anyone who feels that they have seen a change in their sight during lockdown or since their last eye test to book an appointment on our website.’

This welcome reintroduction of services, post-lockdown, expands the in-store offering now available at Specsavers stores in England. Since mid May, full audiology services including hearing tests, ear wax removal and general advice and care has been available again to all customers.

The date for the reintroduction of routine eye tests or expanded essential care in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is yet to be confirmed. Specsavers will adhere to each country’s industry guidance once this is established.

[Specsavers customer panel survey of 1,618 respondents,1 June 2020. 32% of people have noticed a deterioration in their eyesight during lockdown.]

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