Publication date: Nov 28, 2023
The role of optometrists in glaucoma within primary and secondary care has been well described. Whilst many studies examined safety and clinical effectiveness, there is a paucity of qualitative research evaluating enablers and barriers for optometrists delivering glaucoma care. The aims of this study are to investigate qualitatively, and from a multi-stakeholder perspective whether optometric glaucoma care is accepted as an effective alternative to traditional models and what contextual factors impact upon their success. Patients were recruited from clinics at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and nationally via a Glaucoma UK registrant database. Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other stakeholders involved in glaucoma services were recruited via direct contact and through an optometry educational event. Interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcribed anonymously, then analysed using the framework method and NVivo 12. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 38 participants including 14 optometrists and 6 ophthalmologists (from all 4 UK nations), and 15 patients and 3 commissioners/other stakeholders. Themes emerging related to: enablers and drivers; challenges and barriers; training; laser; professional practice; the role of other health professionals; commissioning; COVID-19; and patient experience. Success in developing glaucoma services with optometrists and other health professionals is reliant on multi-stakeholder input, investment in technology and training, inter-professional respect and appropriate time and funding to set up and deliver services. The multi-stakeholder perspective affirms there is notable support for developing glaucoma services delivered by optometrists in primary and secondary care, with caveats around training, appropriate case selection and clinical responsibility.