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An investigation of barriers and enablers to community eye care for children in England: A qualitative descriptive study

Wilson, S., Ctori, I. ORCID: 0000-0003-1523-4996, Shah, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6134-0936 , Conway, M. L. ORCID: 0000-0001-5016-0529, Willis, S. J. & Suttle, C. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-8694-195X (2023). An investigation of barriers and enablers to community eye care for children in England: A qualitative descriptive study. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 43(4), pp. 710-724. doi: 10.1111/opo.13109


Research suggests that there are challenges in the accessibility of eye care for children in England. This study explores the barriers and enablers to eye examinations for children under 5 years of age from the perspective of community optometrists in England.

Optometrists working in community settings were invited to participate in virtual focus group discussions using an online platform based on a topic guide. The discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed. Themes were derived from the focus group data based on the study aim and research question.

Thirty optometrists participated in the focus group discussions. The overarching themes identified as barriers to eye examinations for young children in a community setting were as follows: ‘Time and Money’, ‘Knowledge, Skills and Confidence’, ‘Awareness and Communication’, ‘Range of Attitudes’ and ‘Clinical Setting’. The key themes for enabling eye examinations for young children were as follows: ‘Improving behaviour’, ‘Enhancing training and education’, ‘Enhancing eye care services’, ‘Raising awareness’, ‘Changes in professional bodies’ and ‘Balancing commercial pressures and health care’.

Time, money, training and equipment are perceived by optometrists as key factors in providing an eye examination for a young child. This study identified a need for improved training and robust governance related to eye examinations for young children. There is a need for change within eye care service delivery such that all children, regardless of age and ability, are examined regularly, and by conducting these examinations, optometrists remain confident.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of College of Optometrists. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Publisher Keywords: barriers, child, enablers, eye examination, general ophthalmic services, National Health Service, optometry
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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