Study explores viability of optometric glaucoma care
Optometric glaucoma care holds notable potential as an effective alternative to traditional models within primary and secondary healthcare settings, according to a new study that emphasizes the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration, investment in technology and training, inter-professional respect, and adequate time and funding for the successful establishment and delivery of glaucoma services involving optometrists.
Recruitment for the study involved patients from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital clinics and nationwide through Glaucoma UK’s registrant database. Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other stakeholders engaged in glaucoma services were enlisted through direct contact and optometry educational events. A total of 38 participants, including 14 optometrists, 6 ophthalmologists, 15 patients, and 3 commissioners/other stakeholders, took part in interviews and focus groups.
The emerging themes from the qualitative analysis encompassed enablers and drivers, challenges and barriers, training, laser procedures, professional practice, the role of other health professionals, commissioning, the impact of COVID-19, and patient experience.
The study’s findings underscored the significance of multi-stakeholder involvement, investment in technology and training, inter-professional respect, and adequate time and funding for the establishment and delivery of glaucoma services. Success in developing glaucoma services with optometrists and other health professionals was found to be contingent on these factors. The multi-stakeholder perspective revealed substantial support for optometrists playing a pivotal role in glaucoma services within primary and secondary care. However, caveats were noted, emphasizing the importance of training, appropriate case selection, and defining clinical responsibility.
Gunn PJG, Read S, Dickinson C, et al. Providing capacity in glaucoma care using trained and accredited optometrists: A qualitative evaluation. Eye (Lond). 2023;doi: 10.1038/s41433-023-02820-5. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38017099.