IGA  and College of Optometrists Research Award Winner 2015 

Deanna Taylor

Department of Optometry and Visual Science,

City University London

Project Title ‘Finding glaucoma in the High Street – A Pop-Up Pilot Project

Awarded £15,825

The project will start 1st October 2015 and finish 30th April 2017.

Summary of project

Risk of visual impairment from glaucoma is greatest in those patients detected at a late stage of the disease. Also patients living in the most deprived areas of the UK, as estimated by postcode data, are predicted to be diagnosed with twice as much vision loss compared to those from the least deprived regions.

Glaucoma is mainly detected ‘at the opticians’ following a routine sight test. Yet, visits to the optometrist are often symptom driven and unfortunately glaucoma often has no symptoms. Other barriers, including perceived costs and ‘pressure to buy glasses’ prevents this being a systematic detection of glaucoma. On the other hand screening the entire elderly population for glaucoma has been shown to be too expensive and not practical.

By investigating the concentration of businesses which may reflect the state of peoples’ health, the Royal Society for Public Health has recently published a league table of Healthy and Unhealthy high streets.

This will be an 18 month study to examine the use of a ‘pop-up’ glaucoma testing clinic in these high streets. The pop-up will be taken into the unhealthy high streets to see if public engagement or detection rate of suspect glaucoma is greater than when taken to the pop-up into a healthy high street. Postcodes will be collected from all participants, and a sample of those that don’t part, to see if there is a link between where people live and their engagement with the pop-up.

On some days the pop-up will be designed to show a glaucoma test and on others it will be combined with a blood pressure ‘health check’; this will test the suspicion that a glaucoma test is more likely to be taken up as part of a ‘wider’ health check.

Results from this work will be used to promote glaucoma detection to be a public health challenge.

Professor Crabb of City University London comments ‘Retail pop up booths in high streets and in shopping centres are common – we propose one for glaucoma! The idea is to move glaucoma detection to communities that we think are hard to reach. The IGA funding allows us to pilot the feasibility of glaucoma testing on the high street – literally!’