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Eyesight: Testing

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's policy is on the desirable frequency of eye examinations for (a) children under 16 years old and (b) adults. (197966)

The Department issued guidance on the frequency of general ophthalmic services sight tests in 2002. The guidance contains the following minimum intervals for sight tests:

Patient’s age

Minimum sight test interval

Under 16 years, in the absence of any binocular vision anomaly

1 year

Under 7 years with binocular vision anomaly or corrected refractive error

6 months

7 years and over and under 16 with binocular vision anomaly or rapidly progressing myopia

6 months

16 years and over and under 70 years

2 years

70 years and over

1 year

40 years and over with family history of glaucoma or with ocular hypertension and not in a monitoring scheme

1 year

Diabetic patients

1 year

The General Ophthalmic Services Regulations require optometrists or ophthalmic medical practitioners (practitioners) to satisfy themselves that a sight test is clinically necessary. Therefore, the intervals given are not to be read as applying to all patients in a category.

A practitioner may carry out a sight test at a shorter interval than those listed, either at the practitioner’s initiative for a clinical reason, or because the patient presents him/herself to the practitioner with symptoms or concerns which might be related to an eye condition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many free eye examinations were carried out by the NHS for (a) children under 16 years old and (b) adults entitled to free eye examinations in each of the last five years. (197967)

The latest numbers relating to General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) sight tests paid for by the national health service, by patient eligibility, are available in table 3 of the “General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales: April 2007-September 2007” report. This information is for the first six months of 2007-08.

This report, published on 26 March 2007, has been placed in the Library and is also available at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/statistics-and-datacollections/primarycare/eyecare/generalophthalmicservices:-activity-statistics-for-england-and-wales:-april-2007--september-2007

The number of GOS sight tests paid for by the NHS, by patient eligibility, in England and in Wales, for the year ending 31 March 2007 are available in table B4 of “General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales, Year Ending 31 March 2007” report.

This report, published 31 July 2007, is available in the Library and is also available at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/gosactivity310307

The number of GOS sight tests paid for by the NHS, by patient eligibility, in England and in Wales, for the year ending 31 March 2006 are available in table A4 of the “General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales, Year Ending 31 March 2006” report.

This report, published 27 July 2006, is available in the Library and is also available at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/genophservsactivitystats

In the above reports, information is provided for children aged 0 to 15 and by various adult eligibility groups.

The number of GOS sight tests paid for by the NHS, by patient eligibility, in England, Wales, Scotland and Great Britain for the years ending 31 March 1996 to 2005 are available in table 3 of “General Ophthalmic Services: Consultation tables for England, Wales and Scotland, 2004-05”. Information is available for children (aged 15 and under), students in full-time education (aged 16 to 18) and other eligible adults.

This report, published 30 November 2005, has been placed in the Library and is also available at:

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/genopth2005

All reports have been published by the Information Centre for health and social care.