The Optometry department consists of a team of Optometrists, Dispensing Optician and Contact Lens Technician / Optical Assistant who provide a specialist optometric service at BMEC.

As part of the Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Trust we also provide a contact lens service at Sandwell Hospital and Diabetic Eye Clinics at City Hospital.

Patients are referred to the Optometry department by the ophthalmologists at BMEC, other eye hospitals or their GP.

A range of services are provided including:

  • Complex refraction
  • Paediatric refraction
  • Spectacle dispensing
  • Medical contact lens
  • Low vision aid
  • Glaucoma, Medical Retina / Macula shared care


1. Refraction:

Optometrists carry out a refraction to assess if a patient can be helped by a prescription for spectacles. Patients are usually seen in the Optometry department for a refraction following a request by the ophthalmologist. The test can be useful in the management of their eye condition.

Paediatric Refraction:

A large number of children are seen for refraction in the Optometry department following vision screening by the orthoptists in the community. Drops are usually issued to parents by the Orthoptic department prior to the appointment with appropriate instructions.

The drops have a blurring effect as they relax the focusing and make the pupil large to enable assessment of the refractive error and the back of the eye.

If spectacles are needed they can be dispensed in-house by the dispensing service.

2. Spectacle Dispensing:

The service is available for all patients with prescriptions issued by BMEC.

The spectacle dispensary is located centrally on the ground floor of the outpatient area at BMEC.

The Optical Dispensary was completely refurbished in 2010 and stocks a wide range of current and trendy frames available for all age groups and covering all prices. We have a particularly popular range of frames for young children.

Our Dispensing Optician advises on the best type and design of spectacle lens to achieve the maximum  visual and cosmetic result.

Specialised dispensing service is also offered such as spectacle mounted low vision aids, handmade frames and ptosis props.

3. Contact Lens Service:

The Optometry department at BMEC provides a specialist contact lens service for patients who have a ‘medical need’ or clinical necessity for contact lenses. This is usually where vision cannot be improved with glasses but can be improved with contact lenses. Contact lenses will only be fitted if normal vision cannot be obtained with spectacles.

Indications for hospital contact lenses include:

Corneal irregularities e.g. Keratoconus, Corneal scarring,  corneal grafts

Very high myopia (short sight), hypermetropia (long sight), high astigmatism or anisometripia (large difference in prescription between the two eyes)

Therapeutic (bandage) lenses for pain relief

Cosmetic contact lenses e.g. for disfigured eyes following infection or trauma

Occlusive lenses to relieve double vision (diplopia)

Scleral Lenses:

A tertiary PMMA Scleral lens service is  available at the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre.  PMMA Scleral lenses are highly specialist ‘hand made’ lenses which may be needed for the management of a range of advanced eye conditions.

Scleral lenses can be sighted or cosmetic.

Getting an appointment:

A referral is required by a GP or an Ophthalmologist at BMEC or another hospital to be seen in the clinic. The referral is reviewed by the Head of Optometry to ensure there is a clinical need for contact lenses, following which an appointment is sent to the patient.


There are statutory NHS charges for contact lenses unless the patient is in the exempt category. Payments for new and replacement lenses will be discussed at the initial appointment. Contact lenses are NOT automatically free of charge because they are supplied through the hospital clinic. More information about exemption from NHS charges can be obtained from the Department of Health leaflet HC11.

4. Low Vision Assessment (LVA):

Patients with visual impairment (where good vision cannot be achieved with contact lenses or spectacles) can be assessed in the Low Vision Clinic. A referral can be made by an Ophthalmologist or GP.

The Optometrist will perform a full assessment, a refraction if needed, and demonstrate a range of low vision aids (specialist spectacles, magnifiers, telescopes) to assess which would be the most useful.

Low vision aids are issued on an extended loan basis at the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre and advise is also provided on optimal lighting other methods to maximise remaining vision.

An initial assessment takes an hour. Please bring your own spectacles and any existing magnifiers with you at the appointment.

As part of the rehabilitation process we work closely with local charities for the blind including Focus Birmingham.

5. Shared care clinics:

In a number of specialist clinics, such as Glaucoma, Medical Retina and Macula clinics, the Optometrists work alongside Consultant Ophthalmologists to assess, diagnose , monitor and recommend treatment to patients.


Opening hours:

Monday – Friday, 8.30 – 16.30

If you would like to get in contact with any part of BMEC, please dial our central number 0121 507 4440.

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