Editorial: Moving on

23 June 2022
Volume 23, Issue 2

As our Editor in Chief steps into a new role, we look at how hospital clinics and practices coped with the pressures of the pandemic, and how we can provide services tailored to patients' needs.

If there is such a thing as being ‘in loco editoris’ then it is in that capacity that I write this guest editorial. Our superb Editor in Chief over the last 5 years, Professor Leon Davies, has stepped down to pursue other professional and academic interests, and the process of recruiting a new Editor in Chief for Optometry in Practice (OiP) will begin soon. In the meantime, as we head toward the middle of 2022, and continue to claw our way free from the pandemic (often questioning how we will know when it is actually over), OiP brings you another issue, with a great selection of papers.

Our first two papers provide insights into how hospital clinics and community care practices approached the constraints and pressures of the pandemic. In ‘Ensuring high-quality telemedicine consultations in community eye care’ an experienced group of authors (Matthew Gillam, Dana Hawrami, Christian Dutton, Lyn Price, Simon Hardman-Lea and Bita Manzouri) review how telemedicine functioned during the pandemic, and consider the utility of its continued role in eye health as we emerge from the pandemic. They note that the pace of development in telemedicine and teleophthalmology has not been matched by the regulatory bodies and legislative framework within which clinicians work. This review provides an in-depth discussion of both the recommended history and investigations required for both common and emergency ophthalmic conditions which may be managed using telemedicine in the community.

In the second of our four papers, ‘High-priority contact lens patient care during COVID-19 in the UK’, authors Waheeda Illahi, Martin Cardall, Ellen Rose Hannaway and Shehzad Naroo provide details of an audit to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a hospital contact lens clinic. Early in the global COVID-19 pandemic, hospital eye departments had to alter their service delivery models due to the conditions imposed during the lockdowns. During this period essential and high-priority contact lens cases still had to be seen. The aim of the audit described in this paper was to evaluate how the pandemic and lockdown affected the contact lens service for patients requiring contact lenses for extended-wear aphakia or bandage contact lens patients.

Moving beyond the pandemic, but addressing some related themes, Jenna Littlejohn and Gabrielle Saunders offer some guidance for eye examinations for people with hearing loss. The shift to telemedicine triage presented particular challenges for some groups and individuals, which has served to remind us of the need to be prepared to understand each patient’s needs, and to adjust clinical practice accordingly. In ‘Eye care examinations for people with hearing loss’ the authors provide practical tips for assessing and managing eye health in people with varying degrees of hearing loss.

Hearing loss affects over 20% of the global population. Consequently, a high proportion of adults visiting eye care services may have underlying deficits in their hearing ability. It is important that eye care professionals understand hearing loss, so they optimise patient interactions during the eye exam and ensure the implementation of appropriate support strategies. This review article introduces hearing loss and suggests practical tips for assessing and managing eye health in people with varying degrees of hearing loss.

a high proportion of adults visiting eye care services may have underlying deficits in their hearing ability

Continuing with the theme of providing services tailored to patient needs, Keir Yong, Chris Hardy, Axel Petzold and Sebastian Crutch, in their paper, ‘Posterior cortical atrophy: an overview for optometrists’, provide expert guidance from the Dementia Research Centre team at UCL on the optometric assessment and management of patients with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). PCA is a neurodegenerative syndrome characterised by a progressive decline in visuospatial and visuoperceptual skills. Many people with PCA initially present with non-specific visual symptoms to optometrists working in community settings and are referred into secondary care services. Correspondingly, optometrists may play a key role in promoting the timely identification and management of the condition. This review outlines the symptoms and scenarios that may raise suspicion of PCA, together with recommendations regarding appropriate patient assessment and management in the context of optometric practice.

The diversity of the papers in this issue gives you an idea of the complexity of the role that Professor Davies has been doing for the College over the last 5 years. Leading the editorial board over that time, Leon has produced 15 issues of OiP, and a total of 65 papers published, with many more reviewed that did not make it to ‘print’. Each paper must be reviewed and commented on at first receipt, and then at least two further times (often more) before it finally appears to members with the accompanying CPD questions. It is only through the work of Leon, and our outstanding editorial board members, and our tireless editorial consultant, that it is possible to continue to bring you the high-quality, peer-reviewed CPD content that OiP offers. I hope that once you have enjoyed reading the papers in this issue, and secured the CPD points, you will take a moment to raise a glass of your preferred beverage to Professor Davies in appreciation of his time as Editor in Chief of OiP.

Michael Bowen BSc(Hons) MSc Cert Ed Dip Ed

Michael Bowen is Director of Research at the College of Optometrists, where he has developed the College's Research Strategy over the past ten years. Michael's academic background is in psychology, biology and medical ethics. Prior to his role at the College Michael worked for the professional and regulatory body for Psychotherapy in the UK.

Michael has developed and carried out research in a number of areas, and was the Lead Investigator for the PrOVIDe project, a multi-site study to gather data on the prevalence of visual impairment among people living with dementia and to explore the experiences of eye health provision of people living with dementia. their family and professional carers and eye health professionals. PrOVIDe was a collaboration between the College, Alzheimer's Society UK, The Thomas Pocklington Trust and academic partners from City University London, University College, London, Birmingham University, and Newcastle University. Michael recently worked with UK leaders in the fields of computer science, image analysis and eye health to deliver a Royal Society Science+ event entitled ‘The transformative potential of data and image analysis for eye care’.

Related further reading

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has stepped down its infection prevention and control measures for seasonal respiratory infection in health and care settings (including SARS-CoV-2) in England.