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The content of optometric eye examinations for a presbyopic patient presenting with symptoms of flashing lights

Shah, R., Edgar, D. F, Harle, D. E. , Weddell, L., Austen, D. P., Burghardt, D. & Evans, B. J. W. (2009). The content of optometric eye examinations for a presbyopic patient presenting with symptoms of flashing lights. Ophthalmic And Physiological Optics, 29(2), pp. 105-126. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2008.00613.x


Background:  Standardised patients (SPs) are the gold standard methodology for evaluating clinical care. This approach was used to investigate the content of optometric eyecare for a presbyopic patient who presented with recent photopsia.

Methods:  A total of 102 community optometrists consented to be visited by an actor for a recorded eye examination. This actor received extensive training to enable accurate reporting of the content of the eye examinations, via an audio recording and a checklist completed for each clinical encounter. The actor presented unannounced (incognito) as a 59-year-old patient seeking a private eye examination and complaining of recent onset flashing lights. The results of each clinical encounter were recorded on a pre-designed checklist based on evidence-based reviews on photopsia, clinical guidelines and the views of an expert panel.

Results:  The presence of the symptom of photopsia was proactively detected in 87% of cases. Although none of the optometrists visited asked all seven gold standard questions relating to the presenting symptoms of flashing lights, 35% asked four of the seven questions. A total of 85% of optometrists asked the patient if he noticed any floaters in his vision and 36% of optometrists asked if he had noticed any shadows in his vision. The proportion of the tests recommended by the expert panel that were carried out varied from 33 to 100% with a mean of 67%. Specifically, 66% recommended dilated fundoscopy to be carried out either by themselves or by another eyecare practitioner, and 29% of optometrists asked the patient to seek a second opinion regarding the photopsia. Of those who referred, 70% asked for the referral to be on the same day or within a week.

Conclusion:  SP encounters are an effective way of measuring clinical care within optometry and should be considered for further comparative measurements of quality of care. As in research using SPs in other healthcare disciplines, our study has highlighted substantial differences between different practitioners in the duration and depth of their clinical investigations. This highlights the fact that not all eye examinations are the same but inherently different and that there is no such thing as a ‘standard sight test’. Future optometric continuing education could focus on history taking, examination techniques and referral guidelines for patients presenting with symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment, retinal breaks and secondary retinal detachment.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Ophthalmology, clinical practice, eye examination, flashing lights, optometry, quality of care, standardised patient, POSTERIOR VITREOUS DETACHMENT, STANDARDIZED PATIENTS, RETINAL BREAKS, CLINICAL VIGNETTES, CHART ABSTRACTION, NATIONWIDE SURVEY, PREVENTIVE CARE, NATURAL-HISTORY, MEDICAL-RECORD, FOLLOW-UP
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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