'Three out of four patients don't need to be here' say eye clinics

Altacor to discuss findings at BCLA (Stand 30), 7-9th June 2013

There are still many patients going to secondary care for dry eye problems that could be effectively treated in the community. This was the conclusion of independent research commissioned by Altacor, a specialist ophthalmic products company, to look at patient pathways.

The research, performed by Pathway Communications involved interviewing senior staff in Secondary Care referral units. It revealed that 70 percent of referrals come via the GP and of those between 60 – 70 percent had mild to moderate eye conditions.

Each of the patients sent to secondary care with mild disease will get at least one outpatient appointment with moderate patients receiving additional follow-up appointments.

This means there is considerable room to generate efficiencies in the pathway, which would be better for patients and the NHS.

Chris Miller of Altacor said the findings showed that patients were still seeking advice on eye health from their GP rather than optometrist.

‘It was very clear that there are significant inefficiencies in the pathway driven by GPs’ low level of understanding of ophthalmology.

“This results in a significant number of patients being inappropriately treated for dry eye and referred to secondary care. It was the opinion of the responders that the majority of these patients could have been successfully treated in the community.”

The advice commonly given to patients coming to the eye clinics was to use eye drops specifically designed for dry eye four times a day and only to come back if this had not cleared the problem.

Altacor’s Clinitas eye drops for dry eye are available on prescription or over the counter.
In addition, the company has produced a Blepharitis Relief Kit, which contains a microwaveable mask and a lid cleaner. A warm compress and regular lid hygiene is recommended by ophthalmologists for a range of eye conditions. The kit makes it easy to follow these instructions and is safe to use on the fragile eye area.

Chris Miller says that more education is required to encourage the public to seek expert advice about eyes from an optometrist.

“Our diagnostic kits developed in conjunction with NO7 are easy to use and allow optometrists to diagnose dry eye with confidence. This is a business opportunity for the industry and potential cost-saving for the NHS.” He said.