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Optometrist with a special interest

An optometrist with a special interest can work in a community ophthalmology service testing for glaucoma and managing certain eye conditions at half the rate of the hospital tariff.

An optometrist with a special interest can work in a community ophthalmology service testing for glaucoma and managing certain eye conditions at half the rate of the hospital tariff.



Job description

Working with GPSIs in ophthalmology, optometrists with a special interest

(OPSIs) triage referral letters to hospital ophthalmology and divert patients they consider could be seen by the OPSI/GPSI team to the community clinic. The GPSI in ophthalmology will undertake minor ops, such as lid surgery, while the OPSI will test patients with suspected glaucoma and manage conditions such as dry eye and itchy gritty red eyes.

Patients who need more specialised care, such as those with confirmed glaucoma, will then be referred on to hospital ophthalmology. Hospitals can also refer patients with stable glaucoma to the community clinic for continued management by the OPSIs.

Potential recruits

Community optometrists with at least five years' experience to ensure they have seen a reasonable number of unusual cases.

Training and accreditation

An optometrist's training covers the skills required to work as an OPSI (community optometrists are not funded to do this work so refer patients to GPs – who normally refer them on to the hospital).

OPSIs are not formally accredited and community optometrists wishing to work as one generally undertake around five sessions with an ophthalmologist and spend some time in eye casualty. Informal reaccreditation with the lead ophthalmologist will then take place regularly, usually at least annually.

Salary

An optometrist with a special interest is paid £52 for a consultation with a new patient and £26 for a follow-up consultation, and slightly more if specific investigations are needed, such as tests for glaucoma. This is about half the hospital tariff.

Postholder's verdict

Gordon Ilett, an optometrist with a special interest who works in West Kent and Bexley, says: ‘Probably 40%-50% of all glaucoma referrals result in discharge after the first visit, mainly because optometrists in the community are not paid enough to do an adequate number of tests to confirm the diagnosis, so if they have a suspicion they refer rather than making confirmatory diagnoses.

‘The optometrists in the community have the skills already – often the reason that they are not used is because they are not paid adequately.'

Further information


The College of Optometrists


General Optical Council

Optometrist with a special interest

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