Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2021 Oct 12. doi: 10.1111/opo.12902. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To develop expert consensus on referral criteria for low vision services in Australia.
METHODS: In a modified online Delphi process, a panel of 38 Australian experts in low vision (including ophthalmologists, optometrists, orthoptists, occupational therapists, orientation and mobility professionals, researchers and managers) participated in three rounds of consensus building over a period of 5 months commencing in 2019. Initially, 90 statements were developed, addressing what should be included in best-practice low vision referral criteria, currently used criteria, timing of referral and responsibility for referral. By the third round, these had been reduced and refined to a total of four statements.
RESULTS: In three Delphi rounds, the expert panel produced three key recommendations for low vision referral: (1) that low vision referral should be based mainly on the impact of uncorrectable vision impairment on function and well-being; (2) clinical measures of visual acuity and visual field might be a secondary consideration and (3) it is important to fully inform a person about low vision services at an early stage of vision loss and to involve them in decision making about referral. There was consensus on the need for clear referral pathways and that both ophthalmologists and optometrists have primary responsibility to refer for low vision services.
CONCLUSIONS: Although recommendations and guidelines should not replace sound individual clinical judgement, promotion and adoption of these consensus recommendations could assist health care professionals in providing appropriate and timely referral for low vision services to the benefit of people with vision impairment.
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