In 2014 our principal optometrist Nick Croft qualified as an independent prescribing optometrist. Here Nick outlines his motivation for studying for the qualification and setting up an emergency eye service at Croft and Graves Optometrists
‘For many years I was frustrated by the provision of services for red and sore eyes within the Tyne Valley. Our local GP’s are busy and lack the equipment to examine anterior eye conditions. The other option for sufferers was to visit the eye emergency department at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, often involving a long trip, followed by a wait of several hours to get seen. For this reason, I decided to train as an independent prescribing optometrist and offer an emergency eye service at Croft and Graves Optometrists, so I could serve the community of Tynedale.’
The independent prescribing qualification is held by just over 400 optometrists in the UK, most of whom, work in the Hospital Eye Service. Nick is the only optometrist practicing in West Northumberland who has this qualification. Training for this qualification involves a period of study, followed by a placement under the supervision of an ophthalmologist and then an examination. Nick’s placement was at the Eye Emergency Department at the RVI, where he examined patients who attended as emergencies.
The service is designed for clients with red/sore eyes or sudden visual loss and complements our existing dry eye service.
It is a private service and thus is not covered by the NHS.
Nick’s extra training allows him to more accurately diagnose and treat eye conditions. It allows clients to be seen more quickly and in most cases, avoid a trip to the eye emergency department in Newcastle. He can prescribe medications normally only available in hospitals. Generally, around 95% of patients can be seen and treated with only around 5% requiring further referral to the hospital eye service. The examination Nick carries out is the same examination he was trained to carry out at the RVI.
Nick is also able to prescribe many new and better medications which are now available for the treatment of simple conditions such as dry eye and allergic conjunctivitis caused by hay fever.