A site for sore eyes
- Credit: Honiton Eye Clinic
The NHS recommends that people should get their eyes tested at least once every two years, so it is important to find a trustworthy ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist and to receive the same level of personal and professional care as one would expect from a doctor or dentist.
With their sights set on delivering eye care to this high professional standard, two local and fully-qualified optometrists decided to open an independent practice at the former Eye Deals site in Lace Walk in Honiton in 2018, and renamed it to Honiton Eye Clinic.
Running a local community orientated practice was a natural step for Honiton born Kate Webb and her co-owner Duncan Stevens, who both love all the fruits of living in East Devon. In her spare time, Kate is an active member of Beer Sailing Club while Duncan enjoys finding new walks in the area with his family and dogs.
Speaking about the early days, Kate said: "We knew we wanted to have an independent practice that was truly locally owned, offering community eyecare from where we grew up."
"The beauty of being independent is that you are not beholden to mainstream optical suppliers and you can create more specialist clinics alongside eye examinations, such as glaucoma screening and imaging."
This free ability to provide personalised care is apparent at all levels of Honiton Eye Clinic which offers a full range of clinical services including private and NHS routine eye examinations, contact lens fitting and emergency appointments. The practice uses the latest state-of-the-art technology, including its OCT scanner that looks beyond the surface of the eye and enables all layers of the retina to be examined. They can also screen for glaucoma which helps to ease the pressure on hospital clinics. Duncan also works at the macula clinic in Yeovil District Hospital.
Despite the continued growth and progress, the pandemic had a huge effect on the business. Kate said: "We were unable to conduct eye examinations for a significant period of time. We did however set up a remote emergency clinic where we could triage patients over the phone and get them into practice if necessary.
"We were also very concerned about the detection of eye disease during this time with the suspension of routine eye examinations."
To counteract these hurdles, Kate and Duncan decided to use the time wisely and give the practice a makeover. This lead to the sourcing of new brands of niche spectacles from independent manufacturers and installing the 3D OCT scanner in preparation for coming out of lockdown.
This ability to adapt to change is a key to Honiton Eye Clinic's success, something that Kate is keen to build upon. She said: "We are always looking at ways to improve the practice and move it forward. We want to take on more joint clinical schemes with the hospital and become even more established within the local community by supporting local events and charities wherever possible. Our patients are warm and friendly and you get a real sense of community from them."
In addition, Duncan is currently working towards an independent prescribers qualification to allow him to prescribe eye medication to save patients from an extra trip to the doctor.
In the meantime, Kate and Duncan continue to enjoy the best of East Devon, somewhere that they describe as 'simply the best place to live and work'.