The management of systemic hypertension in optometric practice

Peter G. Hurcomb, James S. Wolffsohn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Systemic hypertension is a silent killer that may have very few warning signs. This study examines detection and management of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) by optometrists in the UK. Method: A survey was sent out to 1402 optometrists who practice in the UK to investigate the nature and knowledge of detection of systemic hypertension. Results: The survey response rate was 37%. Optometrists were neutral to slightly positive towards the use of blood pressure (BP) monitors, but not on a routine basis. The most frequently asked question during history and symptoms concerned the patient's prescribed medication for systemic hypertension, and the least was that of specifying the last BP measurement. The additional test most widely used in the examination of the systemic hypertensive patient was direct ophthalmoscopy with red-free filter. Over one-tenth of optometric practices had a BP monitor, with automated devices being the most popular. Patients most likely to have their BP measured were suspect systemic hypertensives. Retinal haemorrhages are the most important finding in influencing an optometrist's referral criteria for suspected systemic hypertension. Conclusion: Although optometrists monitor the retina for signs of damage from systemic hypertension, further education in this important condition is warranted. © 2005 The College of Optometrists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-533
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • optometric practice
  • survey
  • systemic hypertension


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