Registry to track outcomes
Another key provision outlined in the Optical Confederation draft standards is the creation of a registry to track outcomes of refractive surgery. Over time such a database could be used to improve refractive surgery techniques, Hewlett said.
“That will be great if we can get everyone signed up for that,” he said.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) is also promulgating new standards, “Professional Standards for Refractive Surgery, which it plans to implement on 1st June.
The two sets of standards “should dovetail,” Hewlett suggested.
However, the Optical Confederation felt compelled to create its own set of standards because the RCO standards were designed with only ophthalmologists in mind, he said.
“The Royal College guidance is uni-professional for ophthalmologists and people working directly under their supervision, whereas ours are for optometrists and others who employ them,” he pointed out. “Optometrists have roles in follow-up and pre-surgical care. There are nurse practitioners, physician assistants, opticians—a whole range of professionals coming together to meet eye health demands.”
Professional standards are particularly important in refractive surgery because most of it is performed in the private sector, outside the aegis of the UK National Health Service, said Hewlett.
“The bulk of the refractive surgery in the UK is delivered in community settings,” he said. “What there hasn’t been in the past is any clear guidance for community providers and the whole multidisciplinary team.”
In addition to FODO, the Optical Confederation is made up the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM), the Association of Optometrists (AOP), and the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO).
As currently drafted, the RCO standards do not mention dispute resolution.