BACKGROUND/AIMS Primary open angle glaucoma patients and glaucoma suspects make up a considerable proportion of outpatient ophthalmological attendances and require lifelong review. Community optometrists can be suitably trained for assessment of glaucoma. This randomised controlled trial aims to assess the ability of community optometrists in the monitoring of this group of patients.
METHODS Measures of cup to disc ratio, visual field score, and intraocular pressure were taken by community optometrists, the hospital eye service and a research clinic reference “gold” standard in 405 stable glaucoma patients and ocular hypertensives. Agreement between and within the three centres was assessed using mean differences and intraclass correlation coefficients. Tolerance limits for a change in status at the level of individual pairs of measurements were also calculated.
RESULTS Compared with a research clinic reference standard, measurements made by community optometrists and those made in the routine hospital eye service were similar. Mean measurement differences and variability were similar across all three groups compared for each of the test variables (IOP, cup to disc ratio, and visual field). Overall, the visual field was found to be the most reliable measurement and the cup to disc ratio the least.
CONCLUSIONS Trained community optometrists are able to make reliable measurements of the factors important in the assessment of glaucoma patients and glaucoma suspects. This clinical ability should allow those optometrists with appropriate training to play a role in the monitoring of suitable patients.
- shared care
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