Aims: Investigations into glaucoma awareness have drawn on informed, clinic-based populations. The paper reports a section of findings from a larger study that aimed to elicit the perceptions of those potentially less informed in community settings.
Methods: A qualitative investigation used face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions with 48 African Caribbean participants outside the hospital eye-service. Interview data were transcribed and coded using manual and computer-aided methods. Inferences and interpretations were corroborated by discussion with expert advisors and community members not directly involved in the study.
Results: Positive attitudes to health promotion existed, but 'eye health' did not appear to be integral to individuals' health schemas. The capacity for primary eye care to enhance glaucoma knowledge appeared under utilised and inconsistent across modes of service delivery and was undermined by perceived conflicts of interest.
Conclusions: Enhancing reciprocal understanding between service users and ophthalmic practitioners in primary care is central to developing flexible, responsive local eye-care services. The study suggested useful foci for cultural self-reflection and self-awareness on the part of health professionals themselves, in relation to glaucoma detection. Areas for further research are identified.