Background/aims: To compare the diagnostic performance of accredited glaucoma optometrists (AGO) for both the diagnosis of, and decision to treat glaucoma with that of routine hospital eye care against a reference standard of expert opinion, i.e. consultant ophthalmologist with a special interest in glaucoma.
Methods: A directly comparative, masked, performance study was performed in Grampian, Scotland. 165 people were invited to participate and, of those, 100 (61%) were examined. People suspected of having glaucoma underwent a full ophthalmic assessment both in a newly established, community optometry led, glaucoma management scheme and in a consultant led hospital eye service within a month.
Results: The agreement between the AGO and the consultant ophthalmologist in the diagnosis of glaucoma was substantial (89%, kappa = 0.703, SE=0.083). The agreement regarding the need for treatment was also substantial (88%, kappa = 0.716, SE =0.076). The agreement between the trainee ophthalmologists and the consultant ophthalmologist in the diagnosis of glaucoma and treatment recommendation were moderate (83%, kappa = 0.541, SE = 0.098, SE = 0.98; and 81%, kappa = 0.553, SE = 0.90, respectively). The diagnostic accuracy of the optometrists in detecting glaucoma in this population was high for specificity (0.93 [95% CI 0.85 to 0.97]) but lower for sensitivity at 0.76 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.89). The performance was similar when accuracy was assessed for treatment recommendation (sensitivity, 0.73[95% CI 0.57 to 0.85]; specificity 0.96[95% CI 0.88 to 0.99]). The differences in sensitivity and specificity between AGO and junior ophthalmologist was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Community optometrists trained in glaucoma provided satisfactory decisions regarding diagnosis and initiation of treatment for glaucoma. With such additional training in glaucoma optometrists are at least as accurate as junior ophthalmologists but some cases of glaucoma are missed.