Researchers from City, University of London have shown that eye care provided by Enhanced Eye Care Service Schemes (ESS) and community optometrists in the UK are safe, clinically effective and good value for money.

Led by Professors John Lawrenson and Dave Edgar at City, the research has been influential in providing an evidence base for the development of primary care services.

The Enhanced Scheme Evaluation Project (ESEP) was funded by the College of Optometrists and evaluated community-based eye care service models for glaucoma, primary eye care and cataract in South East London and Greater Manchester, using three different criteria.

ESSs were declared safe, with researchers finding that accredited optometrists managed patients with usual care standards, resulting in high patient satisfaction rates.

Meanwhile, the team declared Eye Care Service Schemes clinically effective after they discovered a successful collaboration between commissioners, local hospital eye service (HES) units and primary healthcare providers.

Finally, ESSs were found to be cost-effective as the researchers concluded that they could help to reduce the volume of patients referred to hospitals by GPs and provide replacement services at lower unit costs.

Prof Lawrenson said: ‘Our research into ESSs has shown that they can be effective in delivering safe, clinically and cost-effective care to patients with a variety of eye conditions. We hope that this work can help influence policy development and build the evidence needed to make commissioning decisions.’