An elderly Peterhead couple with vision problems have had their plea for the reopening of optometry services raised at Holyrood.
North East Tory MSP Peter Chapman claimed the difficulties faced by Thomas and Anna Owenson were being ignored by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
Mr Owenson, 71, is registered blind and his wife Anna, 76, is recovering from a cataract operation. The closure of eye specialists due to the coronavirus has meant she is unable to get her eyes tested to get a new pair of glasses.
Mr Chapman raised their case with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions. Mr Chapman said Ms Freeman had been emailed about reopening of optometrists but there had been no reply.
The Tory MSP said: “That lack of response seems to be a running theme with Jeane Freeman, as I have sent her emails on several occasions, none of which she has bothered to reply to.”
He added that optometrists should open “now”, warning delay would cause “undue stress and concern” to many of his constituents.
In my opinion, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be open, given there is due care and attention to social distancing and so forth.”
Mr Owenson, who is semi-retired but runs a computer data centre, said: “This is very frustrating because my wife needs her specs to read and to drive.
“I get the distinct impression once you are over 70 you are forgotten about. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be open.
“A visit to the optician could certainly help my wife, but there are a lot of other people who have had operations on their eyes but they can’t get anywhere until they open up again. In my opinion, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be open, given there is due care and attention to social distancing and so forth.”
Ms Sturgeon agreed it was a “really serious issue”, but objected to the “tone” of Mr Chapman’s question, saying it would “jar” with most people who have observed Ms Freeman “work literally round the clock to try and tackle the virus”.
The first minister said she wanted to see services, including optometry, to resume “as quickly as possible”.
But she added that would have to be done with “careful consideration” to ensure services reopen safely.