Aims: Glaucoma is a significant health problem, with associated inequalities. Equity profiles are an established public health tool to examine the scale of health inequalities and to imbed action into the commissioning cycle. This is the first equity profile conducted in the United Kingdom for an ophthalmic condition. This methodology also provides a model for use in other localities and for other eye conditions.
Methods: Existing services were mapped and need identified. A wide variety of data sources were analysed. Mapping was undertaken using Mapinfo Professional Geographical Information Systems software. Statistical analysis was conducted using Microsoft Excel 2003.
Results: No single data source provided a fully informed perspective. A clear mismatch between areas of deprivation and location of optometry was observed. Secondary analysis of electronic patient records revealed a significant association between 'late presentation' and older age (mean age of late presenters=76.4 years, 95% CI=75.1-77.6 compared with earlier presenters, 72.4 years, 95% CI=71.7-73.1). Late presentation was also associated with living in an area of high deprivation (chi(2)=7.1, df, P<0.05). Ethnicity data was poorly recorded. Qualitative data provided invaluable insights.
Conclusions: Increasing access to services involves collaboration with optometrists, ophthalmologists, public health, and commissioners. It is no longer acceptable to rely on private high street optometry to provide primary eye care services in areas of high need. Outreach services must be developed and evaluated in areas of relative deprivation if world class eye services are to be achieved.