After Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief aide Dominic Cummings claimed that having coronavirus affected their eyesight, many people may be keen to get their own eyes checked after recovering from the virus.
Lockdown restrictions in England are slowly beginning to ease, with the country set to move into Phase 2 in June, and many non-essential shops are being allowed to reopen.
But does this include opticians? Here’s what you need to know about when you might be able to get your eyes tested again - and what to do if you have an emergency.
When did opticians close?
Opticians ceased running routine appointments when the UK entered into lockdown.
An NHS England notice dated 1 April, explaining the changes to optometry services delivered outside hospital, said: “all routine optical services are suspended until advised otherwise.”
When will opticians be allowed to reopen?
Although the government has not yet set a date for when opticians will be able to open for routine appointments, those who need access to urgent and essential eye care are still able to get help.
Urgent and essential eye care is being delivered from a limited number of optical practices only. You can check with your local optician or branch.
What is essential eye care?
This includes, but is not limited to, appointments for patients who would not normally be considered to be emergencies, but where a delay in an examination could be detrimental to a patient’s sight or wellbeing.
This could include situations where patients have broken or lost their glasses or contact lenses and need a replacement pair to function.
What is urgent or emergency eye care?
This is where urgent clinical advice or intervention is needed, for example for red eye, contact lens discomfort, foreign objects, sudden change in vision, flashes and floaters, or where the patient has been advised to attend a practice by NHS 111 or another healthcare professional for urgent eye care.
Specsavers has suspended all routine eye appointments, but CEO John Perkins, said: “We will though still remain open to support people in the communities we work in if they need urgent or essential care.”
However, not all stores are open during this time and some Specsavers stores have changed their normal working hours.
The Specsavers website explains that if you’re having any problems with your eyes, the best thing to do is to call your local store, who will ask you some questions about your symptoms and will be able to arrange either an essential appointment, over the phone or with their RemoteCare service.
They will then let you know whether you should come into store for an urgent appointment.
They may even refer to you to an eye emergency department. If you do need to come into store, the chain is following government guidelines to make this as safe as possible.
Vision Express, Asda Opticians and Boots Opticians have also remained open for urgent and emergency appointments, but again, not all branches are open.
You are advised to call your local branch if you have a problem, so the optician can assess your situation and whether or not you need to be seen face to face.