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Eye Health and PEARS link on homepage
Losing your sight is something that many of us don't like to think about, but
blindness has become a way of life for over 18,000 people in Wales.
Many cases of eye disease can lead to blindness. However, if detected early
enough, eyesight can often be saved.
The Welsh Assembly Government has introduced two special types of eye
examinations for selected categories of patients who live in Wales.
Optometrists (ophthalmic opticians) who are registered to take part in the
WECI may perform, free of charge, one of the following special types of eye
examinations, depending on the patient:
1. Selected categories of patients who may be at greater risk of eye disease
and may be entitled to a ‘Welsh Eye Health Examination’ (WEHE).
2. A patient who has a sudden eye problem can request a ‘Primary Eyecare
Acute Referral Scheme (PEARS)’ eye examination. This request can be
from the patient themselves or via their G.P.
Any member of the public can receive either of these eye examinations by
visiting a Eye Health and PEARS registered optometrist (ophthalmic optician).
A list of accredited optometrists is available, click HERE
If you are a member of the public and would like to know more about these
eye examinations click HERE.
If you are optometrist/GP or other Health care professional and would like to
know more about these schemes click HERE – LINKED TO
Information about PEARS and the Eye Health Examination for members
of the public:
Below are listed some of the commonest questions people ask about the
PEARS and Welsh Eye Health Examinations (WEHE).
You are entitled to a free of charge eye health examination if
Primary Eyecare Acute Referral Scheme - PEARS
 You have been referred by your GP to a PEARS registered optometrist
with an eye problem.
 You have an eye problem that occurred suddenly (acutely) and you
think it requires urgent or immediate attention.
Welsh Eye Health Examination (WEHE)
 You have sight in one eye only, i.e. you are effectively blind in your
worse eye.
 You have a hearing impairment and are profoundly deaf
 You suffer from retinitis pigmentosa.
 Your family origins are Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian,
Pakistani or Bangladeshi.
 You are at risk of eye disease by reason of race or family history.
You can ask your GP for a referral to a registered optometrist or you may visit
the optometrist yourself and explain why you are entitled to a WEHE or
PEARS eye examination.
What is special about these groups?
Sudden eye problems can be serious and prompt assessment is advisable. In
the past, people with sudden eye problems visited their G.P. which often
meant they had to wait to be seen. Now, if you have an immediate eye
problem, which you think may be serious, you can visit an optometrist who is
registered with the WECI scheme and have an appointment on the same day.
Also, the WECI scheme allows G.Ps to refer patients with a sudden eye
problem straight to a registered optometrist. Optometrists are well placed in
the community to check out these types of eye problems quickly and
Eye Health Examination
Research has shown that certain groups of people are more likely to develop
glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts and other related eye diseases. Other people in
the scheme would find losing their sight particularly difficult, so special care
needs to be taken to identify early eye disease.
Do I have to see my GP first?
Not necessarily, if you have an acute eye problem you can simply contact a
WECI registered optometrist, without having to see your G.P. However, if you
have a sudden eye problem and you would like to visit your G.P. then you
may do so. Your G.P. can then decide if they think it is necessary for you to
be referred to a WECI registered optometrist.
Eye Health Examination
No, if you fall into one of the listed groups then you can simply contact the
optometrist and make an appointment.
What are the warning signs of eye disease?
Identifying the warning signs can be difficult. You can't always see the
problems by looking in a mirror, and many of the diseases have no pain or
discomfort - so it's important to have your eyes checked.
Is the new eye examination the same as a sight test?
No, it is different from the routine sight test for glasses. The Eye Care Initiative
eye examination focuses particularly on the health of your eye. An optometrist
who is registered with the scheme will thoroughly check your eyes for any
signs of disease. Also, the PEARS and WEHE eye exams are free of charge
for the patient provided they fulfil the criteria for having the PEARS or WEHE
eye exam.
Where can I have the eye health examination?
A list of optometrists in your area who are taking part in the scheme is
How often should I have the examination?
If you are having the examination because you have an acute eye problem
then the optometrist will advise you. If you fall into any other group, e.g. you
have ethnic family origins, or you have a hearing impairment, we recommend
that you should have the examination once every year.