Community Eye Service

What our service does

The Community Eye Service cares for children from 0 - 16 years of age with strabismus, lazy eye (amblyopia) and vision defects. If a child/young person has special needs they can be seen until the age of 19 if they remain in education. The team comprises of orthoptists, orthoptic support workers, community ophthalmologists and specialist paediatric optometrists.

The Orthoptic support workers screen the vision of all children attending mainstream lower/primary schools between the age of 4-5 years.

To develop good eyesight, it is important that eye problems are identified and treated at an early age, as defects which may cause squints or strabismus- (where one eye turns in/out), often run in families or are associated with other special needs. The term lazy eye is often used to describe one eye that is not developing good vision, this is also known as Amblyopia.

Following referral, we will offer your child an initial assessment and, together, we will plan your child’s on going eye care. The treatment plan will then be reviewed regularly to improve your child’s eyes as much as possible. After your first visit to see the orthoptist your child will probably have a further appointment to see the ophthalmologist or optometrist. For this next check eye drops may be needed to enlarge the pupils. The ophthalmologist will examine the eyes to ensure they are healthy and prescribe glasses, if required. Each eye is checked to see if it is healthy and to see if your child needs glasses to correct long/short sight or astigmatism, the children’s glasses prescription voucher (HESP) will be issued.

The orthoptist will monitor the child’s eye problem, offering advice and non-surgical treatment, in order to maximise your child’s visual development. Where a child has a condition where the vision cannot be improved the team will work with other professionals to ensure the child visual capabilities are understood. The Community Eye service orthoptists work closely with the ophthalmologists and optometrists in the Community eye Service and at the Moorfields at Bedford Paediatric Eye Clinic.

Location of our service

Enhanced Service Centre Bedford, Biggleswade Health Centre, Flitwick clinic, Shefford Health Centre, Liverpool Road Health Centre Luton and Wigmore Lane Luton.

Children with special needs are seen at the Child Development Centre, Bedford and Edwin Lobo Centre, Luton.

Special school vision screening occurs at St Johns, Ridgeway, Ivel Valley Primary/Secondary, Chiltern Primary/secondary, Lady Zia Werhner.

Who our service provides for

0-19 years. Outside of age range can be referred to Twinwoods, Bedford or Beech close, Dunstable in the Adult learning disability service, for ongoing care where service users are unable to access main stream care.

How to start using our service

We require a written referral from a medical or health professional. These can be faxed.
All referrals are scrutinised but there are no exclusions apart from age or if child does not have a Bedfordshire or Luton GP.

Children with dyslexia will be seen by Community eye Service ONLY if they are experiencing significant visual symptoms when reading.

How decisions are made about who can use our service

All referrals are scrutinised but no exclusions apart from age or if child does not have a Beds or Luton GP.

How we communicate with our service users

Parents or someone with devolved parental responsibility must bring the child to each appointment. Children and their parents are involved in agreeing any plans of care and the plan is reviewed when necessary.

Communication within the clinic setting is supported by letters and leaflets about eye care. Interpreters are used where needed.

Accessibility of our service

All clinics are held in accessible buildings with appropriate facilities.

Qualifications and training of our staff

All staff are DBS checked and complete mandatory training about safeguarding children. All orthoptists, Optometrists and ophthalmologist are state registered and are required to complete up to date training.

Additional Information

What is an orthoptist?
Orthoptists specialise in assessing children’s eyes, diagnosing squints/strabismus, eye movement problems and problems with visual development. It is important that children with problems related to vision and ocular motility defects are seen by the Orthoptists while they are young. The visual pathway becomes mature around the age of seven to eight years and then, any visual problems due to amblyopia they have is unlikely to respond to treatment at an older age.

The key roles for Orthoptists are the assessment diagnosis and management of amblyopia (also known as lazy eye, is a disorder of the visual system that is characterised by a vision deficiency in an eye that is otherwise physically normal), disorders of binocular function including strabismus (squint), ocular movement problems that cause diplopia (double vision), reading difficulties due to poor focusing and eye control, maxillo-facial injuries, stroke and neurological conditions.

What does the ophthalmologist do?
Paediatric ophthalmologists treat eye diseases in children due to abnormal visual development, strabismus (squint), corneal problems, and cataracts.

Your child may be referred to the Paediatric Ophthalmology team at Moorfields at Bedford Hospital Eye Clinic or Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust Hospital Eye Clinic if specialist tests or surgery are recommended.

What does an optometrist do?
An optometrist can also be known as an ophthalmic optician. They work on the High Street in practices, carrying out eyesight tests and prescribe and fit contact lenses/glasses to those who need them. They examine the eyes to detect signs of injury, disease, abnormality and defects in vision and if abnormalities are found they refer to specialist services. Some optometrists have been specially trained in paediatric eye care and work with the Community Eye Service

It is recommended that all children and young people attend an opticians regularly for routine checks.

Contact for more information

Selina Glaze/Caroline Doherty/Angela Coleman
Orthoptic Team Leaders
Enhanced Service centre, Bedford Health Village, 3 Kimbolton Road, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK40 2NT
01234 897445
01234 897410
Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday 08.30 – 17.00

Administrator 9.30-2.30 Monday-Thursday Answerphone available outside these hours.

Record Last Reviewed On: 26/01/2016