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Optometrist Sarah Gibson Talks About The New Emergency Eye-Care Scheme

Thursday 1 January 1970, 01:00
By Sarah Gibson

Sarah Gibson, OptometristIf you have toothache you go to the Dentist, not the Doctor so why should your eyes be any different?

Optometrists are the high street eye experts, so surely it makes more sense for people to come to an optometrist like me, rather than visit their overworked GP if they develop an eye problem, after all I have all the right professional training and equipment to diagnose most eye problems.

Well, you now have that option, and it’s free!* The powers-that-be have seen the light and this common sense approach has become a reality in Somerset. Our neighbours in Dorset and Wiltshire are watching and waiting to see if it works.

Up until now if you had a sudden problem with your eyes you could either go to the doctor or the local hospital for free, or pay for an emergency appointment with an optometrist at a high street Opticians practice. Many people don’t realise that the NHS sight test is only available to a limited group of people and isn’t intended as an emergency service.

However, I am one of a handful of optometrists to be accredited on the new Somerset PCT scheme which aims to improve access to emergency eye-care in the community. This new scheme is known as ACES (Acute Community Eye-care Scheme) and was launched in July this year 2009.

What Does This Mean?

If you are registered with a Somerset GP and experience any of the following symptoms you should contact your local ACES accredited optometrist as soon as possible.

  • Sudden or recent reduction in vision in one or both eyes
  • Red eye(s) or eyelids
  • Pain and/or discomfort in the eyes, around the eye area or temples
  • Recent onset or sudden increase in flashes and/or floaters in one or both eyes
  • Mild trauma (e.g. a scratch to the outer surface of the eye or lids)
  • Suspected foreign body in the eye
  • Recent onset of double vision
  • Significant recent discharge from or watering of the eye(s)

To make an ACES appointment at Sarah Gibson Optometrist in Wincanton please call on 01963 34333 or to email .

To qualify for a free ACES appointment you need to be seen within 4-5 days of developing the problem, so don’t wait and hope it will go away. You will be offered an emergency appointment within 24 hours of contacting the practice.

Situated on the edge of Market Place take a look at what Sarah Gibson has to offer.

Sarah Gibson Optometrist, waiting area

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*There is a catch! Isn’t there always? You need to be registered with a Somerset GP to access ACES but there are plans to widen the availability in the future if other PCTs follow Somerset’s lead. If you are not registered with a Somerset GP you can of course still see Sarah for any emergency appointment but you may have to pay a private fee. 

To find out more about the other services offered at Sarah Gibson Optometrist visit our website:

Click here to find out more about ACES and to download a list of other registered practitioners.


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