For problems with your eyes:
If you are concerned about the costs of obtaining help with your eyes, you can find information about support from the NHS with costs here: NHS Choices: Help With Eye Care Costs
Your eyes are cared for by a number of different professionals
"Optician" is still the term most of us associate with their eye healthcare professional. However, the term is being used less and less within the profession and it is important you know who you are dealing with when you have your eye care appointment. When you visit an optician, you'll have your sight tested by an ophthalmic practitioner, which can mean either an optometrist or an ophthalmic medical practitioner.
Optometrists are trained to recognise, treat and manage abnormalities and signs of some, but not all, eye diseases. Like eye surgeons (ophthalmologists), they examine the internal and external structure of your eyes to detect diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, andcataracts. They may also test a person's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes and see depth and colours accurately. Optometrists do not perform surgery. If necessary, the optometrist will refer you on to your GP or an eye clinic for further investigations.
Optometrists can prescribe and fit glasses, contact lenses and low vision aids. They can also prescribe eye exercises, undertake vision therapy, and, if trained to do so, prescibe medications to treat eye diseases.
Ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) are doctors that specialise in the medical and surgical care of your eyes and the visual system. They also look into the prevention of eye disease and injury. An ophthalmologist treats patients of all ages, from premature babies to the elderly. The conditions dealt with in ophthalmology can range from eye trauma to cataracts, diabetic eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, congenital and genetic eye problems.
To see an opthalmologist you will need to be referred. Occasionally these referrals originate in General Practice, for example if we notice problems with your eyes, but more commonly the referrals originate from the opticians and optometrists who have the necessary equipment (and skills of course) to detect problems with your eyes.
Orthoptists form part of the eyecare team and generally work closely together with ophthalmologists, ophthalmic practitioners and vision scientists. Their main role is to investigate and identify problems relating to the development of the visual system, including:
- squint and lazy eyes in children
- adults with learning difficulties
- adults with double vision
Orthoptists also investigate, diagnose and assist in the treatment of conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, retinal disease, stroke and other neurological disorders.
Stoke Mandevill Hospital Opperates and Eye Casualty service. This can be accessed via the Emergency Department or via your GP - we can usually arrange for you to be seen there within a day. This service is for very urgent problems, that are not emergencies. If you have any doubt how urgent your particular problem is, dial 111 and tell them what has happened and the team there will ensure you get the help that you need.
In the event of an emergency you should dial 999.
Some eye problems - for example trauma need to be seen in A&E in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, while others, for example sudden loss of vision (even if it was brief) may need to be seen in the Cardiac Stroke Investigation Unit which is based in Wycombe Hosptial.
You do not need to worry about logistics, just dial 999, tell them what has happened and the team there will ensure you get the help you need.