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Agreement between ophthalmologists and optometrists in the certification of vision impairment

Bartlett, Rebecca, Jones, Hywel, Williams, Gwyn, Farewell, Daniel and Acton, Jennifer H. 2021. Agreement between ophthalmologists and optometrists in the certification of vision impairment. Eye 35 , pp. 433-440. 10.1038/s41433-020-0860-x

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Background/objectives The certification process to register patients as sight impaired or severely sight impaired is undertaken by consultant ophthalmologists, in the UK. We sought to assess the agreement between optometrists and a consensus panel, in identifying patient eligibility for certification, relative to the agreement between ophthalmologists and the consensus panel. Methods The consensus panel (4 consultant ophthalmologists and 3 optometrists with a formal accreditation in low vision), 30 consultant ophthalmologists and 99 low vision optometrists reviewed 40 randomly selected abridged cases. The eligibility outcomes from the ophthalmologists and the optometrists were compared with the consensus panel outcomes. Results For ophthalmologists and optometrists, the median (IQR) number of cases in which there was agreement with the consensus panel was 33.0 (31.0, 33.0) and 36.0 (34.0, 36.5), respectively. In severely sight impaired cases, the probabilities of agreeing on eligibility for certification were 76.0% (95% CIs 71.4%, 80.1%) for ophthalmologists and 61.8% (59.0%, 64.6%) for optometrists. In sight impaired cases, the corresponding values were 51.6% (46.7%, 56.4%) for ophthalmologists and 72.2% (69.8%, 74.5%) for optometrists. In cases of bilateral atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD), both groups were more likely to agree with the consensus panel and the differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists were less marked. Conclusions Optometrists demonstrated a comparable agreement relative to ophthalmologists, with the consensus panel on the eligibility of randomly selected, abridged cases for certification. The findings support the clinical decision-making ability of low vision optometrists in the certification of patients with vision impairment and provide evidence in support of policy change to allow low vision optometrists to certify individuals with atrophic AMD.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Optometry and Vision Sciences
Publisher: Springer Nature
ISSN: 0950-222X
Funders: Sight Cymru
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 4 March 2020
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 01:24

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