An expert has recommended that UK optometrists consider undertaking training on suspicious optic discs and visual fields in patients with glaucoma.
Moorfields Eye Hospital researcher, Panayiota Founti, collaborated with practitioners in Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Greece to see if other countries experienced the same glaucoma referral challenges that burden the UK’s stretched hospital eye services.
The research, presented at the European Glaucoma Society Congress (19–22 June, Prague), looked at 250 patients referred to a glaucoma specialist practice in the five countries. Nearly half of all the UK patients in the study were discharged the same day, a rate comparable across the other four countries.
In the UK, patients referred to the hospital for a suspicious disc or visual field had this symptom confirmed by experts less than a third of the time, possibly contributing to the country’s high rate of same-day discharges, Ms Founti told OT.
“Optic disc examination is challenging. We know from the literature that, even among glaucoma experts, there can be significant disagreement. It would be important to encourage some more training in these areas. We always fully support that,” she highlighted.
The researchers also found that, though referrals for high eye pressure are common, less than half of all UK patients referred to hospitals with this symptom had been tested with the gold-standard Goldmann tonometer – information that is important for an ophthalmologist to know, she explained.
Ms Founti said that refining the criteria for glaucoma referrals and running alternate referral methods, such as the virtual referral clinics pioneered at Moorfields Eye Hospital, are two steps to be explored for reducing same-day discharges across the UK.
Ms Founti emphasised: “Our goal is to work with optometrists, and we hope that our paper will provide useful information about finding a way forward with them.”