Specsavers has revealed pioneering statistics on the impact its optometrists are making on glaucoma detection rates and raised more than $10,000 for Glaucoma Australia during World Glaucoma Week.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Australia. Glaucoma Australia estimates that there are currently 300,000 Australians living with glaucoma, with more than 50% unaware they have it. This group is often referred to as the ‘50% undiagnosed cohort’.

Over the past 18 months, Specsavers has embarked on an aggressive agenda for action, focussed on reducing the 50% undiagnosed rate and improving patient outcomes (see below). As a result, Specsavers has detected more than 19,000 patients at risk of glaucoma in Australia over the past 12 months.

“These figures are a result of Specsavers-wide data and provide us with the evidence-base to show how we are closing the gap on undiagnosed glaucoma in Australia,” said Dr Ben Ashby, Specsavers Australia & New Zealand Head of Optometry and Glaucoma Australia Council Member. “That sort of information has not been available before and adds value because it allows us to understand the impact we are making on patient wellbeing.”

Annie Gibbins, CEO of Glaucoma Australia, said, “The patient data released by Specsavers is world-first and reinforces the need for regular comprehensive eye examinations. Driving a new culture of eye health awareness is the key to eliminating glaucoma blindness.”

Raising funds, awareness
Embracing Glaucoma Australia’s ‘B.I.G (Beat Invisible Glaucoma) Breakfast’ initiative as part of World Glaucoma Week (11 to 17 March 2018), several stores held a breakfast team meeting to raise awareness within their teams about glaucoma and celebrate the work that Specsavers has been doing to make a difference to this avoidable cause of blindness in Australia.

Each store team was provided with statistics on the number of patients at risk of glaucoma that their respective stores had detected, giving them insight into the impact they are making at a store level. This number is set to rise as OCT technology is rolled out across the network and integrated into the patient pre-test screening procedure.

Australian Specsavers stores also made a donation to Glaucoma Australia every time an eye test was conducted in-store during World Glaucoma Week, and a total of $10,640 was raised for awareness, detection, diagnosis, support and research.

“On behalf of Glaucoma Australia and the patients we support, I would like to thank everyone at Specsavers for their kind donation and continued support of Glaucoma Australia,” Annie said. “The work Specsavers is doing to improve glaucoma detection rates and patient outcomes is commendable.”

Glaucoma Australia is a not-for-profit charity whose mission is to eliminate glaucoma blindness. The organisation raises awareness of glaucoma within the community, directs funding towards glaucoma research, supports patients throughout their journey, and creates hope for people living with glaucoma.

Specsavers’ agenda for action

  • Oculo Specsavers has invested in the integration of the Oculo electronic referral platform into its Australian store network, establishing more efficient communication and referral channels with GPs and ophthalmologists and facilitating more effective treatment for glaucoma patients.
  • Benchmark reporting Specsavers has invested in IT systems that allow for the extraction and tracking of detection and intervention rates across stores, providing optometrists with visibility on how they compare to others in terms of glaucoma care.
  • Referral guidelines Specsavers has been a leading contributor to RANZCO’s work on standardising referral guidelines for glaucoma, creating a clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities in terms of when to send a patient for specialist care.
  • Glaucoma Australia registrations Specsavers has worked with Oculo and Glaucoma Australia to introduce patient registrations with Glaucoma Australia through Oculo so that when a patient is referred to an ophthalmologist they can also be registered with Glaucoma Australia for support services in order to improve patient outcomes.
  • CPD Specsavers has partnered with external training providers, including the Centre for Eye Research Australia and the Australian College of Optometry, to support training materials to further its optometrists’ skills in glaucoma detection.
  • OCT Specsavers is investing in the rollout of OCT technology across its store network. OCT uses a cross-referenced database to analyse images which will help pick up glaucoma with a higher sensitivity than has previously been possible. Once OCT has been rolled out across all stores, Specsavers will have the largest ‘every-patient’ glaucoma screening program in the world. This service will be provided to all patients as part of the standard eye examination at no additional charge.