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In Focus: GPs overburdened with eye care patients

Andrew McCarthy-McClean reports on an AOP survey that revealed how many patients said optometrists were their first port of call for eye-related conditions

A poll conducted by the Association of Optometrists (AOP) found 75% of optometrists have seen a patient in the last six months who booked a GP appointment for an eye-related condition. Optometrists said this put avoidable pressure on struggling GP services and, in extreme cases, even put patients’ vision at risk.

Adam Sampson, chief executive at the AOP, said: ‘The threat of strikes is the latest wake-up call that GPs are at crisis point. We need to change our primary care system, which is broken, failing patients and making unnecessary demands on a GP service already on its knees.

‘Our latest data shows 1.35m GP appointments alone each year are used to treat common eye conditions relating to hay fever, and this is the tip of the iceberg. Millions more appointments are used to deal with other eye health issues that optometrists on the high street are trained to manage.’

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