UK clinical audit finds optometrists can deliver safe SLT treatment

Study evaluates performance and training of optometrists undertaking selective laser trabeculoplasty

A person wearing blue scrubs and medical gloves completes a check list

New research published in Eye has evaluated the performance of optometrists in delivering selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) for the treatment of glaucoma.

The study evaluates a training programme developed by Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology for the delivery of lasers, including SLT, by non-medical practitioners. 

A clinical audit of six optometrists who completed the course and delivered 240 laser procedures was also performed. 

“Early results indicate that trained optometrists follow the relevant clinical protocols and deliver safe laser treatments. Despite an initial investment of time, trained optometrists can take on a significant clinical load, working autonomously,” the authors highlighted. 

Of the 240 procedures, one person developed post-laser corneal haze while another person developed cystoid macular oedema.

“Both resolved with the appropriate treatment without a permanent effect on vision,” the authors shared. 

The researchers highlighted that there is a shortage of senior ophthalmologists nationally, while the number of glaucoma patients is expected to grow by 20% over the next decade. 

“With complex cases requiring higher level decision-making and surgical input forming approximately 20% of senior ophthalmologists’ time in the NHS, the need to allocate non-complex cases and procedures to other members of staff is imperative,” the authors noted.