Region becomes only second in the country to provide free NHS treatment for urgent eye care at high street opticians

People across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can now access free NHS treatment for urgent eye care from their local optician.

Thanks to a brand-new service – commissioned by the region’s recently-merged ICB – high street opticians can offer free treatment for urgent eye conditions, such as itchy and red eyes, scratched or swollen eyes or unexplained reduced vision.

Any person, regardless of age or whether they are already registered with an optician, will be able to access treatment for a new or worsening eye condition through their local optician.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the majority of opticians in the area are still operating, with most offering the new service.

Opticians not currently open can still refer patients to another that is providing the new service, as can local GPs.

Dr Andrew Girdher, Clinical Chair, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “It is essential that people still get treatment for any new or worsening eye conditions.

“We understand that many may have delayed going to A&E or their GP for such things recently, but our eyes are really delicate and do need looking after.

“The great news is that now people can get many of the treatments they need from eye specialists without having to go to hospital or their GP.

“What’s more, this is also a positive development for the local healthcare system, especially for GP practices and hospital emergency departments, as it reduces the number of patients needing treatment.”

The new service, which will begin as a temporary arrangement, was set up as a result of concerns that patients were not seeking treatment for eye conditions due to worries about visiting GP practices and hospitals at the current time.

Local opticians are now being supported by specialist eye departments to deliver the service.

Following the rollout in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, which is only the second region in the country to have the new service in place, it is hoped more areas across the country will soon be able to benefit.

A full list of opticians that are offering the new service can be found by visiting