Our oldest daughter had an eye exam yesterday. She had been complaining of not seeing far very well. At first, it seemed like she was pretending, just to get glasses. But soon, she started to complain more. Finally, we booked her in for an eye exam. Before we could get in, one of her teachers noticed that she had trouble seeing the board from her seat, which is located near the back. (She was placed there due to her academic abilities.) So, I was prepared to hear that she would need glasses, at least for distance vision.
And she did. What I was not prepared for was the NHS benefits for those under 16. Not only was the eye exam free, but she automatically qualified for a voucher for her glasses. This entitled her to free or reduced-price eyeglasses. There was no paperwork to fill out, no claims to make, no declaration of financial need. All children under 16 have these basic entitlements. It was wonderful. It wasn’t too long ago that I had my own eyes checked at the optician’s and had to buy new glasses, so I was well aware of the costs involved.
I completely understand the attraction of free medical care and it is a big plus in the UK. I have not experienced medical care here, so I cannot comment on the quality. However, I wouldn’t expect it to be any different from the US. The natives may complain of the wait in some cases, but that does not sound too different from the US, either. Of course, there are lots of taxes over here. But if you expect certain fundamental benefits, that is one of the things that must be accepted.
The other thing I was not prepared to hear was that she will need an eye exam every 6 months until her vision stabilises. Apparently, children’s eyes can change quite drastically in a short time. (Sigh.) I can’t imagine going through childhood with glasses. I know many do, but in my family, those of us wearing glasses did not need them until adulthood. She can’t wait to get her glasses.