Our local Clinical Commissioning Group has adopted guidance from NHS England on Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care (general practice) https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/otc-guidance-for-ccgs.pdf
What is the change in the prescribing for dry eyes?
The guidance states that dry eye lubrication for the comfort and relief of simple dry eye syndrome should not be prescribed on a prescription but instead purchased over-the-counter. People who have a condition that requires essential lubrication to preserve their sight will continue to receive their dry eye lubrication prescription. These conditions include:
- Severe ocular surface disease (OSD) caused by Sjögren’s syndrome, auto immune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative keratitis) or neurotrophic cornea
- Injury to the cornea (front part of the eye)
- Previous corneal conditions and recurrent corneal erosions
This however does not include simple dry eye conditions, even if eye lubricants have been recommended by an optician or ophthalmologist.
Why has this change been made?
Self-care and stopping prescribing of over the counter (OTC) medicines for minor ailments is now part of national plans for the NHS. In general, these OTC medications are low-cost items easily available for purchase. No longer prescribing them saves the NHS not just the cost of the medicines themselves but other costs through the entire process.
Simple dry eye syndrome is an uncomplicated condition which can be managed without medical intervention. We are asking all patients to purchase medicines for the comfort and relief of simple dry eyes. This includes patients with medical exemption for a medical condition, maternity or age. Simple dry eyes are usually unrelated to the condition for which you have medical exemption and therefore should be purchased rather than prescribed.
Further advice and resources
Your local community pharmacist or optician will be able to advise you on suitable dry eye lubricants available over-the-counter.
Further advice in managing your dry eyes is available from these resources.
For ease of accessing the links above, please see our practice website for a copy of this letter.
If you require any further information or have any concerns, please call the practice and ask to speak to our practice pharmacist.