Specsavers Facebook group provides access to health advice during lockdown

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A unique sight and hearing health advice Facebook group has been created by Specsavers as part of its Open for Care campaign to respond to the growing consumer demand for information during lockdown.

The Specsavers Ask the Expert Facebook group is designed to give people access to professionals who can answer questions about their general eye and hearing health. Since it launched on 2 April more than 1,000 members have joined, and hundreds of questions have been answered by a roster of 30 Specsavers optometrists and audiologists who are available in real-time for 13 hours a day, seven days a week (9am to 10pm). If it is believed further investigations are required, a message is sent to the person’s nearest Specsavers store to call them to arrange to come in for a face to face consultation, or they may be advised to seek further medical attention.

Facebook says: ‘Nearly 2 million people in the UK have now joined more than 2,000 local COVID-19 community support groups on Facebook since the beginning of April. It’s so exciting to see Specsavers being innovative on our platforms in offering support and providing a key service to people across the country at this time.’

The group is designed for general non-essential queries but there have been many urgent cases that have also been picked up.

Swift action from Ask The Expert optometrist Geraint Jones, helped a customer from Caerphilly in Wales avoid further sight loss after he raised concerns about his blurred vision. Having directed him to his nearest store, damage to the back of one of his eyes was detected and the customer was immediately referred to University of Wales Hospital for further assessments. A lack of blood flow to the eye had damaged the optical nerve, resulting in a 70% vision loss that is irreversible but can now be monitored to prevent further deterioration.

Specsavers Ask The Expert is part of a range of services that the company has introduced to help its customers during the pandemic. It has seen a dramatic 240% increase in people accessing the advice pages on its website, glasses and contact lens online sales are up 700% and 204% respectively and it has seen social media engagement levels increase by 40%.

It has also introduced a free nationwide video and phone consultation service – Specsavers RemoteCare – for people who are looking for a private consultation from the comfort and safety of their home. It’s designed to cover various concerns, ranging from eye health and changes in the quality of sight, to contact lens aftercare and audiology health and aftercare.

Specsavers’ global chief marketing officer Katherine Whitton says: ‘During lockdown, when our stores have been open for essential and urgent care only, we’ve had to quickly create new remote and digital ways to support our customers, as well as those who haven’t previously used our services. We will continue to offer these services as long as they are useful to people who need our care.’