Today, I had an appointment with my optician. These days I see her every six months. I should really only see her every twelve months, but she sees me more frequently because the waiting times at the local hospital ophthalmology department are so long. At the beginning of the year, there was evidence of some optic disc haemorrhage, most likely related to my glaucoma and the fact that my current eye drops were not reducing the pressure very effectively.
"You need to be seen at the hospital within the next couple of weeks," she said, so I went home and rang the opthalomology out patients dept. In fact, I was well overdue for my next appointment anyway, but appointment were taking much longer to come through. In spite of pleading my case, the earliest appointment I could have would be in five to six weeks, and as I wasn't prepared to take chances, I opted to see the consultant privately. This was the second time I had had to do that, the first time being just to get eye drops prescribed initially. I am lucky that I am able to pay to go privately if necessary, but it does not sit well with me that, whilst I am able to do that, other less fortunate people are not and have to take their chances.
Today's results were reassuring in that the second type of eye drops which I was given at the last hospital appointment were doing a reasonable job and my pressures were lower, although still not as low as they should be.
So Mrs S will see me again in six months.
In the meantime, she was telling me of losing three of her opticians and having to fill in the gaps which they have left, whilst trying to find new staff and of the constant battle in trying to get her patients seen by ophalmologists within appropriate timescales.
Mrs S is an independent optician and has three branches, two in England and one in Wales.
I am hoping that she will not at some stage decide to pull out of ours.