Post date: 
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Dr Waqaar Shah

GPs have reported their knowledge of eye health has improved as a result of a three-year Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) project delivered by the UK Vision Strategy

The aims of the three-project which focussed on aging and sight loss were to improve GPs confidence in making early diagnoses for eye conditions, referring patients on appropriately and supporting patients with sight loss.


Dr Waqaar Shah, the Royal College of Ophthalmology Clinical Champion for Eye Health, said: "The RCGP and the UK Vision Strategy have worked together to deliver a wide-ranging programme of outputs. This has served to increase knowledge and confidence amongst GPs and their practice teams across the UK in spotting early signs of major eye diseases so patients can be treated or referred to specialists quickly. This will help towards the prevention of avoidable blindness and improvements in the quality of life for patients with sight loss.” 

The results of a survey to measure awareness levels of GPs and their practice teams show the project has improved GPs understanding of eye health and how to manage conditions: 
  • Over a fifth of GPs and health care professionals who responded to the survey said the project had helped increase their confidence in spotting the signs of Refractive Error and almost 15 per cent had improved confidence in spotting the signs of Age-related Macular Degeneration
  • 96 per cent of respondents said they knew where to refer a patient for further investigation of an eye problem.  
A network of over 600 GPs and Practice staff was set up as part of the project to share knowledge, training and information about eye health events. Training tools produced included webinars and workshops around the UK, clinical factsheets on eye health conditions, and a Sight Loss in Older People guide which was sent to every GP practice across the UK. A Position Statement for the RCGP is also planned to use in future policy. You can join the GP network today.
The survey also showed a 15 per cent increase in GPs who said that their practice  offers at least one alternative accessible format for patients receiving information about bookings and attending appointments. Similarly, 16 per cent said there had been an increase in the information about practices including signage, newsletter and reception information now in accessible formats.  This comes just weeks before new Government legislation comes into force which requires all NHS providers to give patients with sight loss access to information in formats they can read.
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