Aims: To compare the quality of referrals and listing rates of direct optometric referrals vs traditional GP referrals for cataract surgery.
Methods: A retrospective cohort of 124 patients referred for cataract surgery was identified (62 via optometric pathway and 62 via GP pathway). The quality of the referral was assessed by establishing if it contained adequate information relating to the College of Optometrists' referral framework document. Age, sex, drug history, listing rate, operative rate, and visual acuity (best corrected) at referral and at the postoperative visit were recorded and compared between the two referral pathways using the Fisher's exact test.
Results: Optometric referrals, relative to GP referrals, were more likely to include information relating to objective visual loss (100 vs 87%, P=0.0061) and to counsel the patient (97 vs 18%, P=0.0001). GP referrals, relative to optometric referrals, were more likely to comment on personal circumstances (32 vs 3%, P=0.0001), past medical history (95 vs 68%, P=0.0001), and drug history (94 vs 69%, P=0.0009). Operative rates were higher for the optometric direct referrals relative to GP referrals (87 vs 69%, P=0.0284). There was no difference in the visual acuity before or after surgery between the pathways.
Conclusions: Optometric direct cataract referrals provide better information on objectively measured vision and better delivery of preoperative counselling. Traditional GP referrals contain better medical history, drug information, and details of personal circumstances. Rates of surgery were slightly higher with optometric referrals.