People with everyday eye problems such as sore eyes or red eyes are encouraged to make use of the free service.

The Barnsley minor eye conditions service assesses and treats people with every day eye problems through specialists at opticians across Barnsley.

It is a free service, which is funded by NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group. The service was reviewed early in 2018 and the CCG has now expanded what’s available to include assessments for people who may need cataract surgery.

Appointments are available at over 25 opticians across the borough. You will be asked questions about the symptoms to assess how serious the problem is and will be seen by an optician within 24 hours if required or within a few days if it is less urgent. People are being encouraged to use this specialist service for common eye problems rather than make an appointment with their GP.

Some of the common, minor eye conditions that the service can safely assess and treat include dry gritty eyes, red eye or eyelids, ingrowing eyelashes, watery discharge and recent and sudden changes in vision.

Local GP Dr Adekunle from Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a really useful service, which many people don’t realise is available at their local opticians. We’re used to visiting opticians for eye sight checks but this eye health check is available free to everyone registered with a GP across the borough if they start having problems such as sore or red eyes, ingrowing eyelashes or flashes or floaters for example.

“Earlier in the year we reviewed the service and took the decision to continue to fund as well as develop it. You will now also be able to get a pre-assessment and follow up appointments for cataract surgery. This will offer people a speedier, more convenient service.

“We talked to local people who told us that they thought that local opticians treating minor eye conditions is a good idea and those that had used it thought it worked well. However some people said they didn’t realise the service existed and so perhaps would have gone to their GP instead. So, there’s some work to do to spread the word that the opticians is the place to go if you have a minor eye health problem.

“As a GP, I know that the optician staff are specialists in their field and can offer really quick and convenient appointments and treatment. The opticians are also able to assess if you need more urgent care and can book you into the hospital eye clinic if that’s needed.”

Nizz Sabir  from Primary Eyecare North, who run the service in Barnsley said: “The public now have the ability to pop in to a local opticians, who has specialist equipment and can be advised and managed in a timely and appropriate manner. We welcome this scheme and hope the public will use their opticians for free, via this scheme as their first port of call when needing help and advice regarding recent onset minor eye conditions.”

Anyone with long-term or ongoing eye conditions will continue to be seen by their GP or hospital team.