Cumbria Crack

Penrith opticians look after area’s eye care to help take unnecessary pressure off NHS

Michael Baker

AN OPTICIANS in Penrith is urging people with essential or urgent eye-related issues to contact them directly to help ease pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.

While the store is closed for all but essential and urgent care, Specsavers Penrith has affirmed its commitment to ensure no-one’s sight in the area is put at risk, in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The store’s experts have been on hand to support people from across the region, particularly key workers. So far, the team have supported those with eye problems of varying severity in lockdown to ensure pressure was taken off local hospitals.

Michael Baker, store director at Penrith, was able to save one patient – who was suffering serious post-cataract operation complications – a trip to the hospital by sending images of a 3D scan of the eye directly to the consultant.

He also saw a woman suffering with headaches, who had swollen retinal blood vessels and a swollen optic nerve, as well a number of people complaining of flashing lights and floating black spots, two of whom had to be sent to the eye hospital for urgent treatment. Without  this treatment they might have gone blind.

Four elderly customers needed urgent glasses repairs, after falling and breaking their own set with no spares and the hospital have referred five children needing a new prescription.

Colleagues have also helped a number of key workers who needed eye-tests for licence renewals, including two ambulance drivers and six HGV drivers.

Michael comments: “Our aim is to keep customers at home wherever possible. Our open for care service means customers who have concerns about their eyes can telephone us for advice, and we can provide support either in-store for emergencies or over the phone to help us asses them.

“Much of the time we will be able to resolve their problems this way, and keep them at home where it is safest – this will also help to ease the burden on GPs, pharmacies and hospitals during the crisis.

“Where face-to-face treatment is necessary, we will make arrangements for customers to be assessed in an environment that complies with the latest government advice to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

“The service has proved especially useful for local key workers who couldn’t do their jobs without our help, and we’ve already been able to assist lots of people across the area whose eye problems would otherwise have caused them real distress during the crisis.”

If anyone is required to attend the store for emergencies, they will be asked to do so – and key workers will be prioritised. Any face-to-face contact will be minimal, handled in-line with current Government’s guidelines.

Michael concludes: “We’re proud to provide vital care for our community at this time and I’m delighted we are able to support those who need it as safely as possible. We’d urge anyone with concerns about their eyes at this time to contact their optician, in the first instance, to take the burden off our NHS workers – we’re always here to help.”

Customers are being encouraged to call the store on 01768 214690 if they need urgent support with a sight problem, or if they have issues with their glasses, contact lenses or hearing aids.

Specsavers’ teams are classed as key workers to provide urgent and essential eye care to those who need it. This includes supporting other key workers who couldn’t function without our help and people who would come to harm without our health expertise, especially where the usual hospital services and NHS facilities are being prioritised for the fight against COVID-19.

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