Eye care services in Scotland

Eye care services in Scotland: did the Scots get it right?

In April 2006 the Scottish Executive introduced free eye care in Scotland and commissioned private ophthalmic optician practices to perform eye examinations. The introduction of free NHS eye examinations in Scotland was expected to encourage wider use of optometry services and to benefit the majority of patients from regular sight testing. We evaluated the impact of this policy. Until 2006 eye-care service delivery was the same in Scotland and England; the introduction of this policy could be viewed as a natural experiment. We exploited this experimental element to identify the effects of the policy.

Outcome and Translation

The policy succeeded in getting more people to have their eyes tested but socio-economic differences suggest that the policy has not reached the more vulnerable segments in society to the same extent, in particular, those with low education and low income. As a result, inequalities in utilisation of eye care services have widened in Scotland since the free eye care policy was introduced.

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Divine Ikenwilo, Verity Watson and Patrícia Norwood.

External collaborators: A Zangelidis and H Dickey (University of Aberdeen Business School (UABS))

Publications

Zangelidis, A., Dickey, H., Ikenwilo, D. and Watson, V. (2011) 'Eye care services in Scotland: did the Scots get it right?', SIRE Focus, 2011-SIRE-02

Dickey, H., Ikenwilo, D., Nowood, P., Watson, V. and Zangelidis, A. (2012) Utilisation of eye care services: examining the effect of Scotland's eye care policy, Edinburgh: Scottish Government Chief Scientists Office (CSO).

Dickey, H., Ikenwilo, D., Norwood, P., Watson, V. and Zangelidis, A. (2012) 'Utilisation of eye-care services: the effect of Scotland's free eye examination policy', Health Policy, 108(2-3), 286-293.

Dickey, H., Ikenwilo, D., Norwood, P., Watson, V. and Zangelidis, A. (2016) 'Doctor my eyes: a natural experiment on the demand for eye care services', Social Science and Medicine, 150, 117-127.

Dickey, H., Norwood, P., Watson, V. and Zangelidis, A. (2018) More than meets the eye: has the eye care policy in Scotland had wider health benefits?, Discussion Papers in Economics, 18-1, Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen Business School. 

Presentations

Dickey, H., Ikenwilo, D., Norwood, P., Watson, V. and Zangelidis, A. (2014) 'Did the Scots get it right? A natural experiment on the demand for eye care services', Health Economics in the Age of Longevity: a Joint iHEA & ECHE Congress, Trinity College, Dublin, 13-16 July 2014.