University summit leads to new eyecare forum for Scotland

University summit leads to new eyecare forum for Scotland

A summit organised by a leading academic has led to the announcement of a new nationwide network and forum for the advancement of eye care in Scotland.

The establishment of Scottish Eyecare for Everyone (SEE) followed an event held at the University of Aberdeen jointly organised by Dr Alexandros Zangelidis, Head of Economics at the University’s Business School, and Optometry Scotland.

The summit - ‘Spotlight on Scotland's Eye Health – breaking down barriers and collaborating for a more inclusive future’ – saw clinicians, policy shapers, academics and charities debate the future of eye care in Scotland and address socio-economic disparities in demand for eyecare.

At the event, Dr Zangelidis gave a presentation on his published research on Scottish eyecare throughout the period from 2012 – 2018, which examines the socioeconomic imbalance in uptake of the free NHS-funded eye examination across Scotland and the potential for eye examinations to aid early detection of wider health issues.

Following the event, eyecare leaders agreed a common message - while Scotland’s primary eyecare services are world-leading, consideration of how to safeguard, develop and promote them are key to the future delivery of the nation’s eye health.

The creation of SSE will enable the group of key eye health stakeholders to collaborate and act to tackle these and other eyecare issues.

Welcoming the establishment of the new forum, Dr Zangelidis said: “It’s clear Scotland is leading the way in eyecare and great strides have been made in community optometry since the introduction of the free NHS funded eye exam.

“However our research, and our discussions at this event, indicate that greater inclusivity and awareness is needed to reach the segments of society that are economically more vulnerable, with lower uptake of health care services.

“This will be just one of the key issues that SEE will seek to address – already we have ideas for targeted awareness-raising measures, and we look forward to seeing these ideas come to life through the work of SEE.”

Frank Munro, Optometry Scotland’s Clinical Advisor, added: “It’s vital that we now ask how community eyecare can be further refined, what more can be done to encourage joint working between primary and secondary care, and what else can be done to improve current GOS arrangements to secure the future of Scotland’s eye health.

“Today’s event has acted as springboard for a more collaborative approach to tackling these issues, and we are energised by the potential of SEE to help us collectively advance world class eyecare in Scotland.”