An audit on the impact of training for a referral refinement scheme in Northern Ireland on community optometrists’ clinical practice when assessing for signs of glaucoma

This study shows that optometrists report finding additional training beneficial to their clinical practice and can be successfully trained to reduce false-positive ocular hypertensive referrals.

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Introduction

Glaucoma services in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK came under significant pressure as the number of ocular hypertensive referrals to the service increased in recent years (Ratnarajan et al. 2013; Shah and Murdoch 2011). This was a result of the implementation of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Clinical Guideline 85 in 2009, coupled with a recommendation from the Association of Optometrists that all patients presenting with repeatable intraocular pressures (IOPs) of more than 21mmHg should be referred to an ophthalmologist regardless of the type of tonometer used to make the measurement (Association of Optometrists 2010).

Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board engaged with the Belfast Local Commissioning Group and other key stakeholders to commission a redesign of glaucoma services with the aim of refining glaucoma referrals and reducing the false-positive referrals which were flooding the hospital eye service (HES).

 

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