In the Surgery ... What happens if I lose my sight?

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If you’re having problems with your sight, see your GP or optician, who can refer you to a consultant ophthalmologist.

This eye specialist will assess whether you qualify to register as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind).

If you qualify, the ophthalmologist will complete a certificate of vision impairment and send it to your local social services department who will contact you to find out what help and advice you need.

Registering with your local authority as blind or partially sighted can entitle you to travel concessions, such as a Disabled Person’s Railcard. Registering as blind can entitle you to a Blue Badge parking permit and a discount on your TV licence. However, not all local authorities run a registration system.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has information about registering your sight loss and the benefits of registration.

How can I see a GP if I am visiting friends or relatives away from home?

If you’re away from home and you need to see a GP, you can contact a nearby GP surgery. You can find out your nearest surgery by calling NHS Inform or logging on to nhsinform.com. You can receive emergency treatment from a GP surgery for 14 days, if your treatment will last longer than that; you’ll have to register as a temporary or permanent resident.

You can register as a temporary resident if you are in the area for longer than 24 hours but less than three months. If you’ll be in the area for longer than three months, you can register as a permanent resident.

If you need medical advice or treatment but you don’t need to see a GP, there are some alternatives. For example:

a sexual health or GUM clinic provides testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and contraception advice

a pharmacist provides advice and treatment for minor conditions that don’t need a prescription

a minor injuries unit (MIU) provides treatment for less serious injuries, such as sprains, cuts and grazes

NHS 24 provides advice over the phone on 08454 242424.

Follow NHS Inform at www.facebook.com/nhsinform.