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Woman with her head in an ophthalmic aperatus.

Welcome to the Wales General Ophthalmic Service.

Following legislative changes in 2023, Wales General Ophthalmic Services (WGOS) replaced General Ophthalmic Services (Wales) (GOS[W]), Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW), Low Vision Services Wales (LVSW), and many various local enhanced service pathways.

 The Wales General Ophthalmic Service consist of a number of different services including:

  • The WGOS Eye Examination
  • WGOS Examinations for Urgent Eye Problems
  • WGOS Low Vision Assessments
  • WGOS Referral Refinement of certain eye conditions
  • WGOS Monitoring of certain eye conditions
  • WGOS Independent Prescribing Optometry Service (IPOS)
  • WGOS Mobile Services for eligible individuals who are unable to attend an optometry practice  

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  • The WGOS service is here to help anyone:
  • Who is worried about their sight or the sight of a relative or friend. If you or someone you know has an eye problem – whether it’s an emergency or your sight is gradually getting worse -- you should see a high street optometrist (also known as an optician) straight away. In many cases it won’t cost you anything and could save your sight. 
  • Please find information to practices providing WGOS services here.

If you have any concerns at all about your eyes, see a High Street optometrist (also known as an optician) straightaway. He or she will tell you if you are eligible for a free eye health examination. This examination is known as an Examination for Urgent Eye Problems and this available under the Wales General Ophthalmic Service. Some eye diseases can lead to blindness or some loss of vision, but if detected early enough, your eyesight can often be saved.

As part of an examination for an urgent eye problem the optometrist will carefully examine your eyes to see if anything is wrong. The tests and equipment they use will depend on what you tell them and what they find. An eye examination for an urgent eye problem is more in-depth than, and different to a routine vision test so it may take longer. If the optometrist decides you need an examination for an urgent eye problem, it won’t cost you anything.

You can find an optometrist on most High Streets in Wales. If you have a sight problem, you can go to your existing optometrist (if you have one) or just phone or walk into any practice that is convenient for you to get to. 

Most optometrists can also offer an NHS Wales funded Eye Examination if:

  • You’re 16 or under
  • You’re a full-time student aged 16,17 or 18
  • You’re under 18 and you are a care leaver or are in the care of a Local Authority
  • You’re over 60
  • You’re on certain benefits or hold a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (Income Support, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credit, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, Universal Credit and meet the criteria)
  • You’re named on a valid HC2W certificate
  • You’re named on a valid HC3 (partial help) certificate
  • You’re registered sight impaired or severely sight impaired
  • You have diabetes
  • You have glaucoma or are considered to be at risk of glaucoma by an ophthalmologist
  • You are over 40 and are the genetic father, mother, sibling or child of someone with glaucoma
  • You are reliant on only one eye for seeing (You are uniocular)
  • You are at risk of developing eye disease based on ethnicity (You are 40 years of age or over and self-certify as Asian or Black or you are under 40 years of age and self-certify as Asian or Black with additional risk factors associated with glaucoma or diabetes).
  • You are hearing impaired, even with the use of hearing aids
  • You have Retinitis Pigmentosa
  • You have been prescribed complex lenses under the NHS optical voucher scheme
  • If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses through the NHS Low Income Scheme.  
  • You are a prisoner on leave from prison

Low vision simply means not being able to see as well as most other people even when you’re wearing glasses or contact lenses. For example, you would probably have low vision if you have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

If you already have a vision impairment or low vision, an optometrist can help you make the best use of the sight you have. They start by carrying out a low vision assessment. This assessment could, for instance, show that magnifiers or better lighting at home would help you. They can also advise you about other people and organisations who may be able to help you with transport, benefits or simple things to make life easier around the house.

Certain magnifiers and low vision aids (LVAs) are provided by the Wales General Opthalmic Service for Low Vision and paid for by the Welsh Government. So they won’t cost you a penny.

You can, of course, buy LVAs yourself. Your local resource centre (sometimes run by a charity) can show you a range of products. 

For further information relating to Low Vision Services, please contact your local optometrist or search Perspectif-Search results for an optometrist in your area.


You can find out more about the CVIW and registering as sight impaired at:

Certification and Registration patient information

Patients are entitled to a mobile service if they are unable to leave home unaccompanied.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common single cause of blindness among people with diabetes aged between 16 and 64 in Britain. It is a complication of the eye that can affect anyone who has diabetes, regardless of type or treatment.

Regular diabetic eye screening is essential to protect your eyesight as early detection is the key to successful treatment. Good glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol control can also reduce your risk of developing sight threatening complications.

If you are Diabetic, your GP should organise a Diabetic Eye Screening Appointment.  Contact your GP if you haven’t received this. 


If you are diabetic and have any concerns regarding your eyes, you can also contact your local optometrist or find an optometrist here

In Wales, there is an eye care service for patients who have an eye problem that they think needs urgent attention. This service is available across Wales by visiting or telephoning an optometry (opticians) practice and stating the problem you are having with your eye or eyes.

At other times a healthcare professional (typically GP or Pharmacist) may feel there is an urgent need for an eye assessment.

Normally, the following must apply to access the service:

There is acute need – typically a change in vision, the eye is uncomfortable or painful or there is a change in the appearance of the eye - which is of recent onset.

You should speak to the optometry practice in person or on the telephone.  Do not use email, answerphone or other non-interactive communications for problems you think need urgent attention.  The practice should make sure the following occurs:

  1. They will respond to your symptoms within 24 hours of you speaking with them.
  2. In their response, they will offer of an appointment in the practice within an appropriate timescale to address your symptoms.  In exceptional circumstances they may arrange for you to be seen in another optometry practice or another NHS Wales service.
  3. There will be no financial charge for the patient.

If you (as a patient, or another health professional) feel there has been difficulty in accessing the service and the above expectations have not been met please provide as much information as possible in the questions following.  We request this to target our support for the service, for the benefit of future patients.  The information is sent to the Health Board which has oversight of the service.

Thank you.