Nerve swelling: what would you do? 

University of Bristol researchers are surveying optometrists as part of a project to speed up the diagnosis and management of papilloedema

A hand is shown in close up filling in a multiple choice form
Pixabay/Andreas Breitling

Optometrists are being encouraged to complete a case-based survey as part of a University of Bristol research project that aims to improve the diagnostic and referral process for patients with papilloedema.

Co-principal investigator of the study and University of Bristol associate professor, Denize Atan, shared that the survey can be completed online and takes around 20 minutes to fill out. All qualified and practising optometrists in England are eligible to take part in the survey, which closes on 15 December.

“We are interested in this problem because papilloedema can be a sign of potentially life-threatening disease. But it can be hard to tell if someone has nerve swelling or not because there are many normal variations in nerve appearance that can be mistaken for swelling,” she said.

“In the survey, you are presented with two clinical cases and asked to respond to questions about what you would do if you saw these cases in your practice,” Atan explained.

The ‘Improving the Diagnostic accuracy of referrals for Papilloedema’ (DIPP) Study, which is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, will involve three stages.

The first stage aims to establish how optometrists and hospitals in different areas of England manage patients who have nerve swelling at the back of their eye. The second stage will see the development of guidelines for optometrists and GPs as well as leaflets for patients.

The third stage will evaluate how the guidelines are used and whether patient experiences have improved as a result.

More information on the DIPP study can be accessed online.