Optical Confederation representative David Hewlett (pictured) and optometrist Katrina Venerus, from the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), represented non-hospital ophthalmology providers, optometrists and dispensing opticians at a working group to agree a minimum data set for refractive surgery.
The working group was convened by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists but recognised that refractive surgery is a growing area of clinical practice for optometrists and opticians, as well as other health professionals.
LOCSU’s clinical director, Ms Venerus, explained: “We are close to agreeing a minimum data set which will collect, before and after surgery, uncorrected near, intermediate and distance visual acuities, as well as outcome at discharge, or at one year and discharge.”
She added: “The overriding principle is to err on the side of simplicity and to collect only essential information and data as part of routine practice.
“We also agreed that patients when consenting to surgery should also be asked whether their data can be confidentially shared for audit purpose and to improve patient outcomes.”
Mr Hewlett, chief executive of the Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians, said: “Developing an agreed refractive surgery data set is a key part of our proposals for providers and clinical teams to benefit patients.”
He added: “Excellent progress is being made, although in many ways, agreeing a data set is the easy part. We now have to carry providers and clinicians with us to collect the data and persuade all parties to agree to submit them to a central independent analytical resource or repository.
“To do this we need to be clear about the purpose and uses of the data, and the independence of the analysis. There is still a significant amount of work to be done here but the signs are positive.”
Looking to the future, Mr Hewlett concluded: “What we are doing here may well become the model for other areas of shared ophthalmic practice in years to come, so we are actively seeking the views of all optometrists, opticians and optical practices, whether or not they refer to, or offer, refractive surgery, cataract surgery or other services.”