We are committed to delivering a world leading eyecare service for the people of Scotland. Our plans build on the National Ophthalmology Workstream, Community Eyecare Services Review and Low Vision Services Review reports, and support the Waiting Times Improvement Plan and a range of other strategies including Modern Outpatient and Realistic Medicine.

We have a rigorous focus on service access and treatment as well as on health prevention and tackling health inequalities. This ensures we are in the best position possible to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future.

Eyecare services

The ophthalmic workforce consists of: 

  • ophthalmologists
  • ophthalmic nurses
  • optometrists
  • dispensing opticians
  • orthoptists

We will work with others to deliver a system of eyecare services in which all areas of our ophthalmic workforce are working at the top of their professional competency. 

This will enable more high quality, safe, effective and person-centred eyecare services to be delivered in the community and closer to people’s homes, freeing up hospital eye services to focus on the most complex and urgent patient cases.

Community optometrists are already the first contact point for any eye problems and can diagnose and treat a number of conditions without the patient requiring an appointment with their GP or an ophthalmologist. An increasing number of community optometrists are registered independent prescribers and can issue the patient with an NHS prescription to treat their eye problem.

We will further expand the range of eyecare services delivered in the community by investing in a shared electronic patient record and accredited practitioner training. This will include the management of stable glaucoma and treated ocular hypertension patients and a national low vision service for visually impaired people.

Free NHS funded eye examinations

Scotland is the only country in the UK to provide free universal NHS funded eye examinations. These are available to anyone ordinarily resident in the UK and to eligible overseas visitors. In some cases, the NHS will also give an optical voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

It is important that everyone has their eyes regularly examined. A NHS eye examination in Scotland is more than just a sight test – it provides a general eye health check that can detect early signs of sight-threatening conditions and some general medical conditions including:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • tumours
  • dementia
  • arthritis

Free NHS funded eye examinations are also provided for:

  • emergency eye issues, for example a red or sticky eye, blurred or reduced vision, flashers and floaters or pain in or around the eye
  • ongoing review of conditions such as cataract, suspected glaucoma and ocular hypertension

More information on entitlement to NHS eyecare services and a list of community optometry practices can be found on NHS Inform.


Email: eyecare@gov.scot

Community Eyecare Team
Scottish Government
1ER, St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top