Specsavers first piloted the use of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) in optometric practice in 2016. The pilot had the specific objective of targeting the 50% of patients with undiagnosed glaucoma as reported in the Blue Mountains Eye Study and the National Eye Health Survey.
By harnessing OCT technology in a consistent manner across all practices, every patient received the same high standard of care and optometrists were able to adapt their practice to a new uniform approach. The results from the first phase pilot, in conjunction with other systematically practiced tests and assessments, showed that this approach led to enhanced detection of glaucoma.
Detecting glaucoma in a patient is complicated and requires multiple assessments coupled with professional judgement to accurately determine an individual’s risk. While the clinical value of OCT in providing detailed structural analysis, in many cases prior to functional deficits being evident, is well established, OCT should never be used in isolation to assess a patient for glaucoma.
Instead, use of the technology must be followed by RANZCO guideline-directed investigation by the optometrist; meaning it must be used in conjunction with knowledge of the patient’s history, intra ocular pressures, assessment of the optic nerve and retina, anterior eye examination, angle examination and visual fields.
Following the rollout of OCT across the Specsavers network, now being used by 1,500 optometrists on more than 4 million patients per year, the impact on detection rates of glaucoma is irrefutable.
Consistent application of OCT within an optometric consultation, together with Optometry Benchmark Reporting and RANZCO Referral Pathways, result in improved glaucoma detection rates to a level that is now approaching internationally published prevalence rates for the condition.
With the benefit to patients clear, OCT has been officially incorporated in the standard patient journey and made available to all patients, at no additional cost.
This is currently the only scaled, evidence-based solution proven to impact the detection of undiagnosed glaucoma within an optometric patient base.
Although OCT has been a catalyst for significant changes to patient care, it is just one of several fundamental elements that form part of the Specsavers Transforming Eye Health strategy.
“Glaucoma Australia welcomes the widespread usage of OCT within the optometric sector and believes it is having a tangible impact in the glaucoma arena. The increasing use of OCT at the optometric level is helping contribute to a significant drop in the average age of diagnosis – in essence, we are picking up more patients and finding them sooner,” Annie Gibbins, CEO Glaucoma Australia.