Delivering optometric care in the UK

  • Sarah Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Optometrists play an important part in delivering eye care in the United Kingdom; however opportunities for practitioners to extend their role through co-management of patients with ophthalmologists vary across the country. Devolution in Scotland and Wales has led to greater emphasis on community based care in these regions.
This thesis reviews the current situation and, by examining ophthalmic outpatient clinic data, discusses further opportunities to reduce demands on secondary care and the cost savings that can be made. To assess whether the profession is currently in a position to adopt an extended clinical role, changes in the availability of optometric instrumentation are assessed over a two year period. An increased prevalence of fundus cameras and contact tonometers places optometrists in a good position to take on further responsibilities in glaucoma management, however future investment could be impacted by the current economic climate as value for money became increasingly important to practitioners looking to purchase equipment. Methods of training optometrists in the necessary skills to utilise new technology to extend their role are evaluated in terms of both learning and cost effectiveness. Interactive distance learning is proposed as a convenient and effective method to deliver continuing professional development.
Any changes to optometric practice must take account of the need for a sustainable business and the importance of attracting and retaining patients. The views of patients are assessed through a validated service quality questionnaire, SERVQUAL. The questionnaire is found to be valid for use in an optometry setting.
Patients have a generally positive view of the service quality they receive from their optical practice and consider the intangible aspects, in particular responsiveness and empathy, most important. Optometrists are well placed to increase their role in patient management; however a viable business model must exist to enable investment in instrumentation and training.
Date of Award4 Jul 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLeon Davies (Supervisor), Shehzad Naroo (Supervisor) & James Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • UK optometry
  • service quality
  • Optometric instrumentation
  • Co-management
  • Training methods

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