Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, affecting over 300,000 Australians, yet it is estimated that 50% of those living with glaucoma are undiagnosed.
The clinical interventions introduced within the Specsavers network over the past 12-24 months, including the introduction and roll-out of OCT, increased utilisation of, and same-day performance of visual fields, RANZCO Referral Pathways, Optometry Benchmark Reporting, and ophthalmology-led education are proving to have a measurable and positive impact on the detection of glaucoma.
In 2019, Specsavers referred 42,458 patients for glaucoma. In the first few months of 2020, we have referred an additional 9948 patients.
This data shows that we are now detecting glaucoma in 1.3% of our patients, which is just below the reported population prevalence of 1.5%.
The rollout of OCT as a standard part of care for all patients has been ground-breaking in the early detection and treatment of glaucoma.
When you compare the referral data before and after OCT was implemented, you can see the remarkable difference that using this technology on every patient is making. For example, from July to December 2017, when OCT was only used by 4% of Specsavers practices, 10,562 patients were referred to specialists for suspected glaucoma (0.68% of patients). From January to June 2018, when 83% of Specsavers practices used OCT, this number doubled to 20,516 (1.3% of patients) and again to 42,458 in 2019.
In 2019, Specsavers conducted approximately 2.8 million OCT scans, and approximately 300,000 visual field tests performed. This is equivalent to 10.9% of patients treated with visual fields test.
In addition, 2,581 patients were referred to Glaucoma Australia for support in 2019, this is nearly double the rate of patient support integration compared to 2018 and again shows the difference that automation through Oculo has made in terms of patient management.
The systematic use of OCT for every patient, performance of visual fields for all those with identified risk factors, use of the RANZCO Referral Pathways for glaucoma referrals, and Optometry Benchmark Reporting all positively contribute to patient outcomes and specifically had the ability to help reduce the number of undiagnosed glaucoma cases in the population.
Read more about the work Specsavers is doing to improve glaucoma detection and referral rates in the Specsavers Eye Health Report 19-20.