Glaucoma referral scheme deemed "highly successful"

53.6% of patients are discharged after a GERS community assessment, study finds

Eye exam
A glaucoma filtering scheme has been deemed “highly successful” in research from the College of Optometrists’ Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project (ESEP).

The research, which has been published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, evaluated the clinical effectiveness of the Glaucoma Enhanced Service (GERS) in Great Manchester.

Researchers found that the scheme has been highly successful in reducing false positive community referrals, while it is clinically effective and very safe in its treatment of false negatives.

A lower referral rate into the hospital eye service was also reported, with 53.6% of patients being discharged after the GERS community assessment, resulting in savings for the NHS.

Of the patients not referred to the hospital eye service, just one patient had met the criteria and not been referred, researchers shared, emphasising that no glaucoma or non-glaucomatous pathology was missed.

Speaking about the project, first author and principle optometrist (training and education) at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Patrick Gunn, said: “The ESEP shows where there is a good partnership between community optometry and the hospital eye service, with appropriate training and accreditation, schemes such as the Manchester GERS are highly clinically effective and safe.”

The analysis is the seventh paper from the College’s ESEP to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Director of research at the College, Mike Bowen, said: “This research, and the broader ESEP, has provided evidence, where very little existed before, that optometrists working in the community and enhanced scheme is both safe and cost effective. We are confident that these latest findings will encourage commissioners to duplicate this type of scheme, with the reassurance that outcomes for patients, far from being compromised, will be enhanced.”