Improving glaucoma referrals in Bolton

Specsavers optometrist and practice director, Matthew Thornton, discusses a service that has reduced glaucoma referrals by half

An initiative in Bolton to improve glaucoma referrals has seen the number of referrals reaching secondary care reduce by half.

Specsavers optometrist and practice director, Matthew Thornton, spoke with OT about the glaucoma enhanced referral service (GERS).

He said that when the initiative was first introduced, the average waiting time for a routine glaucoma appointment within secondary care was around 70 weeks.

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Thornton shares insight into how extended care is finding a home on the High Street in our August/September feature, Care in the community.


Following the launch of GERS, waiting times have reduced to around 30 weeks.

“The hospital is really happy with the scheme because they are able to see the patients who need to be seen. The patients much prefer not to wait for weeks on end,” Thornton emphasised.

GERS gives optometrists the option to refer suspect glaucoma patients for an enhanced case-finding appointment at a GERS practice rather than to secondary care.

All optometrists involved in GERS are required to complete the College of Optometrists professional certificate in glaucoma.

Thornton highlighted that the number of people with glaucoma is only going to increase over the next 20 years as the population ages.

“Since the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the waiting list for glaucoma. There is a shortage of medical practitioners able to deliver the service in secondary care,” he said.

“It is important that optometrists look to gain further qualifications so that they can start to play a part in glaucoma management down the line,” Thornton highlighted.