VERU leads Health Innovation Education Cluster project

Published: 12 September 2011 at 15:31

Anglia Ruskin research unit investigates glaucoma referrals in new study

Anglia Ruskin University’s Vision and Eye Research Unit (VERU) is leading an investigation into the activity of established glaucoma referral refinement schemes in the UK.

The partnership between VERU (led by Professor Rupert Bourne), Moorfields Eye Hospital (Professors Ted Garway-Heath and Peng Khaw) and City University (Professors David Crabb and John Lawrenson) has been commissioned by the North East London, North Central London and Essex (NECLES) Health Innovation Education Cluster (HIEC).

The project will look at referral refinement schemes in Cheltenham, Huntingdon, Manchester and Nottingham, focusing on efficiency, cost-effectiveness and patient safety. It also aims to identify best practice and recommend characteristics of an optimal pathway that can be adopted in other demographical areas of the UK.

The concept of refining glaucoma referrals is not new. However, since the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Association of Optometrists (AOP) guidance in 2009, this topical area has gained more widespread attention.

The use of contact tonometry and assessment of the optic disc are core competencies gained during optometry training. Various care pathways exist within the optometry community ranging from a referral to secondary care if an eye examination is not entirely normal, to performing extra tests including contact tonometry and gonioscopy in order to reduce false positive referrals to the hospital eye clinic.

Research carried out by the HIEC Glaucoma Pathways Research Fellow Dr Gok Ratnarajan, in collaboration with the leads for these referral refinement schemes, aims to establish performance of these schemes such as false positive and negative rates associated with glaucoma referrals.

A recent development has involved meetings with all the Primary Care Trusts within North Central London to create a pan North Central London glaucoma referral refinement scheme with uniformity in referral criteria, referral forms and reimbursements. The next stage is to engage with stakeholders throughout London to disperse best practice throughout the capital, and beyond.

Professor Shahina Pardhan, Director of VERU at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“This work is very important and I am really pleased that VERU had been given a chance to lead it. 

“It is hoped that this work will provide commissioners and providers of glaucoma care with an evidence base to inform decisions on how to best provide safe, high quality and cost-effective care.”