An Eye-Opening Experience

In praise of the NHS.

I had to attend for my annual eye clinic appointment today (Tuesday). They have moved the clinic from the main hospital in Norwich, to a specialist facility close to the city centre. I got a bus in, and arrived in good time. I have to go, as I have Glaucoma. This is a condition where the fluid in the eye builds up pressure, and can be a cause of blindness, if not treated. I use eye drop medication on a regular basis to suppress this pressure, so have to have an annual check, to make sure it is still under control.

When you are there, they also carry out a normal eye test, a visual fields check, and take photos of the inside of your eyes. It takes about an hour to have all three tests done, as well as the pressure test. That involves anaesthetic eye drops, so that a probe can be pushed against your eyeball, to measure the pressure. Then more drops widen your pupils, so that they can look inside with a magnifying lens, and an incredibly bright light. None of it is painful, but it is quite weird to have to be conscious, and watch something coming straight at your eyes like that.

When I arrived at the new clinic today, I was suitably impressed. Almost no queue, smart surroundings, and a very calm and soothing atmosphere. It was obviously a private facility, easy to tell that as soon as the receptionist welcomed you on arrival. The young lady who did the general test asked me to take home a customer satisfaction form, so I asked her if it was a private organisation. She told me that it was a privately-funded venture, directly employed by the Eye Department of Norwich Hospital. As their waiting list was so large now, and they do not have enough specialist doctors, they have decided to outsource these essential annual checks.

I moved on to see the optometrist. Not a doctor, but a Glaucoma specialist and diagnostic expert. He was very professional, and friendly too. Happy to chat about anything, and taking his time over the procedures. He discussed his findings at some length, and told me that he would be writing a report to the hospital consultant, appraising him of the results, and his own opinions. After just over an hour, I was finished and back out on the street, heading for the bus station.

For those of you who have asked me about this issue, and shown much appreciated concern, there was some good news. The optometrist advised me that a new prescription for my spectacles would alleviate most of my current symptoms. Although I have cataracts visible in both eyes, only the right one is big enough to be considered for surgery, and not just at the moment. The pressures were normal, and if anything, the left eye is still virtually 20-20, with only the right eye causing any concern. So, if I can avoid surgery, and improve my eyesight by buying new spectacles, then it is all good news.

It is worth noting that this was all 100% free of charge, covered by my years of paying a small amount into the NHS via National Insurance deducted from my salary. If for some reason I never paid into this, (as a full-time housewife, for example) it would still be free. Even the bus to and from the hospital was free, courtesy of my senior citizen bus pass. And although I will have to pay something for the new spectacles, the optician’s eye test will also be free, as I am a pensioner. The continuing need for eye drops will also cost me nothing, as I am over 60.

So, well done, the NHS. You are very good indeed, at least as far as I can see.

(Apologies for the shameless puns, in both the title, and the last line)

53 thoughts on “An Eye-Opening Experience

  1. Of course, puns are always welcome in my book!
    I’ve had the test done, so I understand the weirdness of it. I don’t have glaucoma or cataracts, but I do have some retinal scarring from childhood (apparently, due to a virus common in the Midwest).
    It looks like you envision a future with good eyesight, thanks to the NHS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have since been back to the main hospital, called in to discuss the tests. The doctor urged me to get the new glasses as soon as I can afford them (we have to pay for them unless we are very poor, though the prescription is free) and said that the cataract surgery might wait for 1-2 years yet.

      He was also concerned at my inability not to flinch or blink during the eye examination. He is sure I will have to be sedated for the surgery, when it happens, which he informs me is ‘very rare’. He got quite testy with me, and told me to ‘calm down’. I told him to change seats, and let me stick something in his eyeball, so I could see if he flinched or blinked!

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Since moving to Norfolk, we cannot fault the hospital, or local GP service. My wife has Type 2 Diabetes, and they are on top of everything, without fail.
      Thanks for the comment.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  2. First, I am glad to know you received good news at your appointment. I wish you well with the condition, certainly. Now the healthcare system you describe sounds great-it is not so in U.S. I am glad for you-There are too many sad cases here and are quite common. Best wishes friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michele.
      I am aware that the health system in America is neither fair, nor equal. It needs a complete overhaul, to operate along similar lines to our NHS. But given the power of the drug companies, and medical institutions, I think that is unlikely to happen.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great news Pete. Eyesight is very important and good to know yours is getting the right attention. After what happened with my son I can’t help but praise the NHS. He wouldn’t be here now if he hadn’t received excellent care from the many staff at the hospital from surgeons through to ward cleaners. They were all very pleasant and helpful and caring. And all free.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There are things that could be improved and having to pass smokers outside the main entrance (I named it Fag Alley) was more than annoying, but he had the best surgeon in the hospital and she really did save his life. Can’t thank her enough.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Same at Doncaster. Though one day spot fines were enforced at £60 and for several days afterwards no-one was smoking in the grounds. The worst is seeing patients attached to drips or in wheelchairs puffing away.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. The NHS is such an amazing system. The amount of money I’d be having to pay for my medication if I was in the US would probably be at least a thousand a month. On the NHS? Absolutely free. My gran has glaucoma and cataracts in both of her eyes, sorry to hear that you’re going through it too. Glad that the NHS are taking such good care of it though!

    Like

  5. Good to hear the NHS doing well. Phil has glaucoma too so is also doing 2 lots of eye drops every day, he also had to have a laser treatment last year, but that and the drops seem to be doing the trick. Our NHS is a wonderful system, sad that our Govt doesn’t treat it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, FR. I have never had any laser treatment, but the NHS is working well for me too. It isn’t perfect of course, and does depend a lot on where you live. But overall, I think it is a better system here than in many countries.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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