Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 22 23

I read with interest the feature on the fast-track cataract service in Croydon involving local optometrists ('I can see clearly now the wait has gone', pages 28-29, 31 October).

The government's Action on Cataracts initiative has highlighted the importance of reducing waiting lists for this simple procedure. Optometrists can be used to provide cataract referral refinement, thereby reducing unnecessary visits to hospital for those patients who would not benefit from cataract removal. Optometrists can accurately predict the need for cataract surgery and refer directly into a 'one stop' cataract surgery facility.

1They can also be involved in post-operative care, which again reduces hospital visits. The Peterborough scheme concluded that patients without complications can be discharged to their optometrist on the first day following cataract surgery.

2Patients appreciate the convenience of such schemes, and being seen by a named practitioner.

3This concords with the government's philosophy of patient-centred care.

We urge primary care organisations to make more effective use of the eye-care skills and expertise provided by optometrists and already available in the community.

Dr Susan Blakeney Optometric adviser College of Optometrists


1Gaskell A, McLaughlin A, Young E, McCristal K. Direct optometrist referral of cataract patients into a pilot one-stop cataract facility. J R Coll Surg Edinb Jun 2001 46(3)133-7.

2Muthucmarana DJ, Rimmer RJ.

Cataract surgery and the optometrist.

Eye 14 Oct 2000 (pt 5) 777-8.

3Warburton T. Post-operative cataract care in the community: the patient's view. Optometry Today, 19 May 2001.