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Eyesight Testing

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 7 April 1949

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asked the Minister of Health the number of persons who have had their eyesight tested under the National Health Act by ophthalmic surgeons and by opticians, respectively, since 5th July last; and how many have been diagnosed as not requiring glasses, in each category.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consult with the organisations involved with a view of using a discretionary dissuading influence on the demand for spectacles? We do not want to become a bespectacled nation.

I must, of course, rely upon the technical advice that is given by skilled persons. I am, however, about to consider an experiment by which I hope to be able to make a check on whether, in fact, it is necessary for so high a proportion of the population to have spectacles.

Could my right hon. Friend tell the House by what date he expects this information will be available?

Would it be possible to introduce a system of priority for people requiring spectacles, because there are some people who are operated on for cataract who have to wait a very long time for spectacles?

Well, I have asked the opticians to try to deal with cases of urgency before other cases. That applies particularly to children, for example, who often ought to have spectacles at once when they are prescribed. A priority system is very difficult in itself to arrange, and the best thing I can do is to rely upon the co-operation of the opticians themselves. I understand that that is now forthcoming to a much larger degree.