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Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Scheme

What is NI PEARS?

Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Service (NI PEARS) is a service provided by most optometry practices across Northern Ireland for patients who develop a sudden eye problem.

The NI PEARS service is for patients who develop a sudden eye condition such as:

  • Red eye(s)
  • Pain and/or discomfort in the eyes, or around the eye area
  • Sudden reduction in vision in one or both eyes
  • Recent onset or sudden increase of flashes and/or floaters in one or both eyes
  • Suspected foreign body in the eye

If you are unsure whether your symptoms qualify you for an NI PEARS examination please contact one of the accredited optometry practices who provide NI PEARS for advice.

How to find an NI PEARS accredited optometrist

You can contact any of these accredited optometrists. This is known as self-referral. If the optometrist that you usually attend is on the list you are encouraged to attend that practice.

Alternatively, if you are making an appointment to see your GP or consulting your community pharmacist about your eye problem, you may be advised to attend your optometrist for an NI PEARS assessment.

Appointments are available during normal working hours and you will be seen within 48 hours.

You must be registered with a GP in Northern Ireland and bring your Health and Care number which is on your medical card.

What happens at an NI PEARS assessment?

The optometrist will discuss your eye problem including the symptoms you may have, any history of eye problems and related medical history. You will be given a thorough eye assessment to enable the optometrist to investigate your condition. The optometrist will explain your condition and may:

  • Give advice and treatment if required.
  • Refer you to your GP if your eye condition is related to your general health
  • Refer you directly to the hospital eye service if the condition is more serious.

If your condition is minor and non sight threatening the optometrist should be able to manage it in their practice. They may recommend an eye medication and will either direct you to your pharmacist to purchase the medication or give you a form to take to your GP to have a prescription issued.

The optometrist may also recommend a follow up appointment.