Patients in the Western Isles will be able to see their optometrists, at R.Doig Optometrists and Claire Whyman Optometrist, in person from today (Monday June 29) as they reopen for face-to-face emergency and essential eyecare consultations.

Both practices can meet the requirements set out to operate safely in the context of COVID-19, and have received PPE supplies.

The move forms part of NHS Western Isles’ phased remobilisation of services and is in line with the Scottish Government’s route map.

Essential eyecare is defined as appointments for patients who would not normally be considered emergencies, but where a delay in examination may be detrimental to a patient’s sight or wellbeing. The provision of routine eyecare remains suspended until further notice.

Throughout the pandemic, R.Doig Optometrists have been able to continue delivering advice and treatment through the Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centre (EETC) and emergency treatment has been able to take place where necessary.

The EETC service has been provided in Stornoway and Benbecula throughout the lockdown. This service has been supported by NHS Near Me remote appointments and video links to Ophthalmology in Raigmore, which has been very successful in reducing the need for patients to travel to Inverness. 

The use of telephone and video triage and assessment will continue for all practices as a method of minimising the requirement for face-to-face assessment and maximising safety. 

Local Optometrists, Ian Rough (of R. Doig Optometrists), and Claire Whyman (of Claire Whyman Optometrist), said: “We are pleased to announce the move into the next phase of recovery as services gradually reopen in line with national guidance and we will continue to provide support and advice to all patients in the Western Isles.

“Following the reinstatement of emergency and essential face-to-face consultations today, the plan is to gradually move back to the provision of full services as outlined in the Government’s roadmap for health services.

“We would urge all patients with concerns, even if they seem minor, to phone us now and not delay any further, as we do not want anyone to suffer sight loss due to delays in care.

“We are also available to repair and replace lost or broken glasses. Please be aware that all visits to opticians are by appointment only just now so please phone prior to attending to avoid being turned away.”

Patients who have any concerns about their eye health should contact their optometrist by telephone.