Testing times

Optometrist Kevin Wallace shares tips with undergraduates at the AOP’s student conference on refining your sight test time

10 Jan 2017 by Emily McCormick, Laurence Derbyshire


Optometrist and AOP clinical advisor, Kevin Wallace, took to the stage at the AOP student conference last month (26–27 November) to share his tips on efficiently reducing the time it takes to perform a sight test.

The talk, entitled Two hours to 20 minutes, was designed to inform third-year optometry students on how to decrease their sight testing times “without cutting corners,” as they prepare for the pre-reg period. However, Mr Wallace also stressed that it was also not just about increasing speed, but also performing everything that optometrists need to do, both effectively and appropriately.

He highlighted that there are three things undergraduates need to do to improve their sight testing times and these included practise, efficiency and decision-making.

Explaining the importance of practising, Mr Wallace told students: “Repetition is key. You may do things on patients when they didn’t necessarily need a test, but this will allow you to practise your skills rather than doing the test in the most efficient way at first.”

Putting students at ease, he stressed: “A lot of these things are down to practise. You will not be as quick [at the sight test] in a couple of months’ time as you will be in nine months’ time. Just think about the order that you are doing things in and get it down to a nice, neat pattern.”

Focusing on decision-making, he explained: “Doing the test itself is not complicated…It’s about using the information and applying it to make a decision that is the right decision for the patient. That is the difficult bit which is hard to do quickly when you first start testing because you will not have seen enough funny optic nerves, for example, to really know what something means.”


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Comments (4)

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    Anonymous

    Thanks Trevor and Peter - as you (and the summary above) point out the point of this talk was not to normalise ultrafast tests but to give students practical tips on how to develop an efficient examination routine when they start to see patients in practice. The video here is only an edited version of the whole talk and my introduction was about using your clinical expertise to choose the appropriate tests to investigate the problems of a specific patient in a reasonable length of time. I pointed out that when I was asked to present on this topic that I had the thought that I was not the man for the job - but when I thought about it I could use my experience with the AOP Legal Team to help these students at this very early stage of performing routine tests on real patients and avoid some pitfalls that have got others into trouble. My intent was certainly not to normalise ultrafast testing and all the issues that go along with that.

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    Anonymous

    One of the problems is that sight tests all take different times, so the booked appointments have to be an average. We've all had the 15 year old 6/5 emmetrope in for a routine test, s/he's had colour vision, stereo etc check in that past and, after 15 minutes you are wondering what else you can do. And then the 85 year old that took you 45 minutes... Testing times also depend on how much support you have in the practice, and how good it is. If you do your own pressures, fields (when needed) and fundus photos, then the test will take longer than if these are all done efficiently and well by someone else for you. Ditto on whether you write your own referral letters or simply dictate and have someone else type them out. Some tests will over run. Some admin (referrals) may be required. Test times of 30 minutes probably build this into the times, test slots of 20 mins may need some time-out allowing for admin during, or at the end, of a session - see "Safe Practice: Eye testing" on the AOP website. Kevin's talk was aimed at helping students prepare for life in the world as it is. We may or may not wish to change some aspects over time, but that would be a different project.

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    Anonymous

    Hi, I'm on the AOP Board and know Kevin Wallace the presenter of this video quite well. I don't think Kevin is encouraging or endorsing doing ultrafast sight tests, quite the opposite. The aim of this video is simply to help to build confidence for our student members. Students often think that doing a test in 30mins or quicker is impossible, but as we all know from our own experiences, as you get more practice you do also become quicker.

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    Anonymous

    I don't think it is remotely appropriate for the AOP to be encouraging and normalising 20 min tests. This is not healthy for patients or optometrists! The AOP should be fighting for sensible testing times not supporting students to achieve them. I appreciate that students need to speed up from 2 hours but 30 mins should be the minimum testing time to allow time to test and speak to a patient - explain the findings and answer their questions. I'm really shocked the AOP are running lectures like this.

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