The report provides background to the College’s interest and involvement in ophthalmic public health, the rationale for funding two Ophthalmic Public Health Research Fellows, and summarises the research programme that was undertaken by the Fellows under the supervision of the Principal Investigator at the University of Leeds in collaboration with the College.

The report also provides a list of project outcomes and research outputs from this project.

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Aims

The Ophthalmic Public Health Research Project aimed to deliver high quality research outputs in order to:

  • improve the evidence base for optometric practice
  • inform the development of optometrists’ understanding of ophthalmic public health
  • identify opportunities for optometry to provide public health data and provide evidence for the impact that effective use of such data can have on eye health
  • examine specific public health issues within optometric practice, provide evidence of the scope and scale of these issues, and support potential solutions to them
  • inform professional optometric and national eye health care policy.

Objectives

The objectives of the project set out in the contracted scope of work were to:

  • review the current literature and available sources relating to ophthalmic public health data
  • identify data sources that could be made available for analysis and carry out work required to facilitate/ enable analysis
  • produce new research based on relevant data sources (existing or prospectively acquired)
  • develop collaborative research with appropriate groups, research centres, and researchers
  • disseminate information, papers and reports relating to the data and research conducted.

Background

Eye health is a public health issue. Visual impairment affects about 10% of people aged 65 to
75, and 20% of those aged 75 or older.1 Between 20 and 50% of older people have undetected visual
impairment and the majority of these have correctable problems due to refractive errors or cataracts.2

 

Evans BJW, Rowlands G. Correctable visual impairment in older people: a major unmet need. Ophthal Physiol Opt 2004;24:161e80.
2 Wormald RPL, Wright LA, Courtney P, Beaumont B, Haines AP. Visual problems in the elderly population and implications for services. BMJ 1992; 304:1226e9.

Primary outcomes

In summary, the outcomes of this project were:

  • improved understanding of the sources of public health data, including an evaluation and reporting of these sources
  • mapping gaps in current data and indicating potential new data sources or fields to fill the identified gaps
  • a determination of whether there is adequate data to produce a sound, evidence-based approach to determining recall intervals for sight tests.

Given these outcomes the Ophthalmic Public Health Research Group has proposed further research that might improve the capacity to:

  • improve information available to eye health professionals
  • facilitate comparative clinical audit and evaluations to inform practice
  • support effective feedback to professionals
  • enable better value for the NHS and the patient
  • support the optimisation of the use of resources
  • support the equalities agenda

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