The accuracy of accredited glaucoma optometrists in the diagnosis and treatment recommendation for glaucoma

Augusto Azuara-Blanco, Jennifer Burr, Ruth Thomas, Graeme Maclennan, Stephen McPherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To compare the diagnostic performance of accredited glaucoma optometrists (AGO) for both the diagnosis of glaucoma and the decision to treat with that of routine hospital eye care, against a reference standard of expert opinion (a consultant ophthalmologist with a special interest in glaucoma).

Methods: A directly comparative, masked, performance study was undertaken in Grampian, Scotland. Of 165 people invited to participate, 100 (61%) were examined. People suspected of having glaucoma underwent, within one month, a full ophthalmic assessment in both a newly established community optometry led glaucoma management scheme and a consultant led hospital eye service.

Results: Agreement between the AGO and the consultant ophthalmologist in diagnosing glaucoma was substantial (89%; kappa = 0.703, SE = 0.083). Agreement over the need for treatment was also substantial (88%; kappa = 0.716, SE = 0.076). The agreement between the trainee ophthalmologists and the consultant ophthalmologist in the diagnosis of glaucoma and treatment recommendation was moderate (83%, kappa = 0.541, SE = 0.098, SE = 0.98; and 81%, kappa = 0.553, SE = 0.90, respectively). The diagnostic accuracy of the optometrists in detecting glaucoma in this population was high for specificity (0.93 (95% confidence interval, 0.85 to 0.97)) but lower for sensitivity (0.76 (0.57 to 0.89)). Performance was similar when accuracy was assessed for treatment recommendation ( sensitivity 0.73 (0.57 to 0.85); specificity 0.96 (0.88 to 0.99)). The differences in sensitivity and specificity between AGO and junior ophthalmologist were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Community optometrists trained in glaucoma provided satisfactory decisions regarding diagnosis and initiation of treatment for glaucoma. With such additional training in glaucoma, optometrists are at least as accurate as junior ophthalmologists but some cases of glaucoma are missed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639-1643
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number12
Early online date30 May 2007
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007




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