New refractive surgery standards

A working group established by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has published guidance on vision correction surgery

Refractive surgery

Professional standards for refractive surgeons have been released with the aim of improving patient safety and quality of care.

The refractive surgery standards working group, set up by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, launched the new standards on 4 April and they are expected to be implemented by 1 June, 2017.

As well as the new standards, the group has released a series of patient information leaflets that give balanced and independent advice on common refractive surgery procedures. A surgery checklist acts as a reference guide for patients to cover important questions with their surgeon before agreeing to go ahead with treatment.

The measures have been taken following concern among patient and consumer groups about inconsistent patient information and quality of care. Refractive surgery is becoming increasingly popular, with more than 100,000 laser vision correction surgeries performed each year in the UK.

Bruce Allan, a fellow of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, emphasised to OT that refractive surgery was safe and highly effective in the right setting.

“The professional standards guidance provides a great framework, raising consistent standards of care, for refractive surgeons to work with,” he highlighted.

“I would strongly recommend that surgeons review the standards against their own working practices for the benefit of their patients and the clinics they work in,” Mr Allan added.

He explained that the information leaflets would help patients to balance the risks of surgery against the risks of contact lens wear.

Additionally, the working group has developed new advertising and marketing standards that offer guidance for organisations to help them comply with the Advertising Standards Authority recommendations.

A national database, providing accurate, up-to-date information on UK refractive surgery results and patient satisfaction, is also in the pipeline.

David Hewlett, chief executive of the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians, told OT that he was supportive of an agreed refractive surgery data set.

FODO had commented extensively on earlier drafts of the refractive surgery standards, he highlighted.

“We look forward to studying this guidance and any new evidence with interest,” Mr Hewlett concluded. 

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