[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This investigation determined eye care utilisation patterns in a rural county in Ireland. Population based estimates of visual impairment and glaucoma were available, so the two studies will optimise planning for eye care services for the county.
Roscommon has a population of 55,000 served by one ophthalmologist and two optometrists. Data were collected on all outpatient visits for all providers for a 3 month period. Information was abstracted on demographics, presenting and final diagnoses. Expected number of visits for glaucoma were calculated using the population structure and rates of glaucoma, and assuming one visit per year per glaucoma patient.
1398 patients had a total of 1442 visits in 3 months. A third of the visits were to optometrists, and all but 21 visits were for normal eye examinations or glasses. The majority of children aged less than 16 years, and people older than 60 years were seen by the ophthalmologist. Among children, 81% of all visits were to the ophthalmologist and 92% were classified as a normal examination. Only an estimated 188 visits per year for glaucoma were observed, compared with 1100 expected.
In this rural county, many of the visits to the ophthalmologist were for normal eye examination, particularly among children. Screening algorithms which would free the ophthalmologist to see more complicated problems could be considered. There is an underutilisation of services by glaucoma patients. Reasons for this are described.
Preview · Article · Nov 1997 · British Journal of Ophthalmology