Habits and attitudes towards retinoscopy and the relative accuracy of dedicated and combined retinoscopes

  • Derek Dunstone

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisOphthalmic Doctorate


The studies presented in this thesis were carried out because of a lack of previous research with respect to (a) the habits and attitudes towards retinoscopy and (b) the relative accuracy of dedicated retinoscopes compared to combined types in which changing the bulb allows use in spot or streak mode.
An online British survey received responses from 298 optometrists. Decision tree analyses revealed that optometrists working in multiple practices tended to rely less on retinoscopy than those in the independent sector. Only half of the respondents used dynamic retinoscopy. The majority, however, agreed that retinoscopy was an important test. The University attended also influenced the type of retinoscope used and the use of autorefractors. Combined retinoscopes were used most by the more recently qualified optometrists and few agreed that combined retinoscopes were less accurate.
A trial indicated that combined and dedicated retinoscopes were equally accurate. Here, 4 optometrists (2 using spot and 2 using streak retinoscopes) tested one eye of 6 patients using combined and dedicated retinoscopes. This trial also demonstrated the utility of the relatively unknown ’15 degrees of freedom’ rule that exploits replication in factorial ANOVA designs to achieve sufficient statistical power when recruitment is limited.
An opportunistic international survey explored the use of retinoscopy by 468 practitioners (134 ophthalmologists, 334 optometrists) attending contact related courses. Decision tree analyses found (a) no differences in the habits of optometrists and ophthalmologists, (b) differences in the reliance on retinoscopy and use of dynamic techniques across the participating countries and (c) some evidence that younger practitioners were using static and dynamic retinoscopy least often.
In conclusion, this study has revealed infrequent use of static and dynamic retinoscopy by some optometrists, which may be the only means of determining refractive error and evaluating accommodation in patients with communication difficulties.
Date of Award12 Jun 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMark Dunne (Supervisor) & Richard A Armstrong (Supervisor)


  • retinoscopy
  • survey
  • habits
  • attitudes
  • accuracy

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