The College of Optometrists has published results from a survey which ‘showed that only 8% of people will book an appointment with an optometrist first above other healthcare professionals, even though 22% of people noticed their vision get worse over the course of lockdown.’ Sadly, over the course of the pandemic, there has been little progress in public recognition of primary eye care services and the public instead turning to pharmacists, GPs and hospitals for help that would have been better given by us.

The survey also found that ‘of those who noticed their vision getting worse but did not see an optometrist, 23% were concerned about contracting coronavirus and 18% were not sure if they were allowed to visit a practice.’ I am not surprised, as, at the time of writing, there appears to be some conflicting views as to what we can actually do. In England, it appears that, to quote the AOP, ‘at least one large GOS provider intends to start offering private sight testing’ and so, presumably, seeing patients that most of us would not classify as meeting the ‘urgent and essential’ category. And the GOC has said, ‘In our view this means that registrants are able to deliver private eye care including private sight tests/eye examinations and aftercare appointments.’

My main worry about this ambiguity is that we may be insidiously moving towards a system offering private services when NHS services are suspended. This is something that I have little confidence our current government would object to.

That said, most colleagues feel that routine remains suspended until NHS England says so. This last point concurs with the latest comment from ABDO at the time of writing. Whether all practices agree remains to be seen.

From wobbly advice, to a wobbly photo competition. Don’t forget that the June 20 is Nystagmus Awareness Day. Check out more details at