Optometric practice in Norway: a cross-sectional nationwide study

Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2007 Sep;85(6):671-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0420.2007.00929.x. Epub 2007 Apr 4.


Purpose: To describe optometric practitioners and their encountering patients.

Methods: All members of the Norwegian Association of Optometrists working in the community (n = 761) were invited to participate in a questionnaire survey; questionnaire responders (n = 508) were asked to take part in a practice registration. Data collection was carried out between November 2004 and May 2005 using a questionnaire and a practice registration form.

Results: Five hundred and eight optometrists responded to the questionnaire; of these 212 participated in the practice registration, in which 4052 patient encounters were recorded. All optometrists reported taking patient history in the areas of vision and ocular health; 55% asked questions about general health for all patients. More than 80% collaborated with general practitioners and ophthalmologists. The patient encounters were with 1699 men and 2216 women; 60% of patients were aged 45 years or older. Patients reported a history of ocular disease and other conditions of relevance for ocular health in 12% and 17% of encounters, respectively. One per cent had low vision [best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) < 0.33] and 2% were visually impaired (BCVA < 0.5). Ophthalmoscopy was performed for 88% of patients; dilated fundus examinations were carried out for 2%; clinical findings of cataract were reported for 11%; and retinopathy was suspected in 3%. Six per cent of patients were referred to a general practitioner or ophthalmologist.

Conclusion: Optometrists generally collaborate with general practitioners and ophthalmologists. They take history, investigate and assess patients with ocular problems. A significant number of patients had primary or secondary ocular disease. This illustrates the role of optometrists as healthcare workers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Optometry / organization & administration
  • Optometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires