Welsh project explores role of community optometry in managing sight threatening chronic conditions

The pioneering study has been awarded a Research for Patient and Public Benefit grant from Health and Care Research Wales

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A study that investigates the role of community optometrists in monitoring and managing eye disease has received a substantial funding boost.

The collaboration between researchers and healthcare professionals was awarded a Research for Patient and Public Benefit grant from Health and Care Research Wales.

The project is being led by Professor Barbara Ryan, from Cardiff University, and includes representatives from primary and secondary eye care.

Dr Pippa Anderson and Dr Mari Jones, from Swansea University, are part of the multidisciplinary team.

Dr Anderson highlighted that since 2017, ophthalmology has had the highest number of outpatient episodes of any specialty within the NHS.

“As a result, a number of new approaches have developed across the UK. Here in Wales, we have primarily concentrated on upskilling primary care optometry,” Dr Anderson said.

She noted that services provided by optometrists within the community differ across each region in Wales, partly because of lack of evidence supporting the best approach to take.

Hospital to Community Collaboration Cymru has developed the project to better inform decisions taken at health board and Welsh government level.

Dr Anderson noted that the study would evaluate the value of community optometrists managing common sight-threatening eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“Value in this context will not only be economic impact but also a patient-centred focus coupled with the right management in the right place at the right time,” she highlighted.