Referring into a paediatric low vision clinic

Optometrist Hannah Dunbar summarised findings of an audit on referrals into a low vision service at Moorfields Eye Hospital  

Optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and post-doctoral research fellow at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, Hannah Dunbar, delivered one of five quick-fire presentation sessions designed to provide insight into hospital-based research at the Hospital and Specialty Optometrists Conference (HSOC).

During the event, which was held at the University of Warwick last month (November 4–5), Dunbar provided a summary of an audit performed at Moorfields Eye Hospital that explored the rate of referrals from a paediatric glaucoma service into the low vision clinic that she works within.

Speaking to OT, Dunbar explained that in 2017 the team had performed a more general audit investigating the outcomes of its paediatrics low vision service, looking at where referrals were coming from within the hospital.

Dunbar shared that the clinic had received referrals for 155 children, but noted that only four had come from its paediatric glaucoma service – a service that sees between 45–60 patients a week.

“Certainly, in my mind, more children should have been referred [from this service],” Dunbar said, adding that the hypothesis of the study was designed to test this.

The study, which used a retrospective method, saw Dunbar and colleagues look at the data of 200 children, including their diagnosis, their vision and whether they had any visual field loss, in order to determine if they were eligible for referral to the low vision clinic.

From the 200 children reviewed, the optometrists determined eligibility, in addition to considering any commonalities for factors that may have influenced their likelihood of referral, such as age, visual acuity, or the type of clinician they saw.

Dunbar reported that a quarter of the children who were seen in the paediatric glaucoma service were eligible for referral to the low vision clinic, but only 25% of these were referred, meaning “75% of those who could have been referred were not.”

“That was a bit alarming,” Dunbar said, “because [in the low vision clinic] we are really thinking about the practical implications of a child having visual impairment, what that means to them in their life in general, but with a focus on education to make sure that the barriers created by having a visual impairment are minimised as much as possible.”