• Oct 2010
    AAO PPP Committee, Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology
    Compendium Type: I

    METHODS AND KEY TO RATINGS

    Preferred Practice Pattern guidelines should be clinically relevant and specific enough to provide useful information to practitioners. Where evidence exists to support a recommendation for care, the recommendation should be given an explicit rating that shows the strength of evidence. To accomplish these aims, methods from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network1 (SIGN) and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation2 (GRADE) group are used. GRADE is a systematic approach to grading the strength of the total body of evidence that is available to support recommendations on a specific clinical management issue. Organizations that have adopted GRADE include SIGN, the World Health Organization, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Policy, and the American College of Physicians.3

    • All studies used to form a recommendation for care are graded for strength of evidence individually, and that grade is listed with the study citation.  
               
    • To rate individual studies, a scale based on SIGN1 is used. The definitions and levels of evidence to rate individual studies are as follows:

    I++

    High quality meta-analyses, systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), or RCTs with a very low risk of bias

    I+

    Well conducted meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs, or RCTs with a low risk of bias

    I-

    Meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs, or RCTs with a high risk of bias

    II++

    High quality systematic reviews of case control or cohort studies
    High quality case-control or cohort studies with a very low risk of confounding or bias and a moderate probability that the relationship is causal

    II+

    Well conducted case-control or cohort studies with a low risk of confounding or bias and a high probability that the relationship is causal

    II-

    Case-control or cohort studies with a high risk of confounding or bias and a significant risk that the relationship is not causal

    III

    Non-analytic studies (e.g., case reports, case series)

    • Recommendations for care are formed based on the body of the evidence. The body of evidence quality ratings are defined by GRADE2 as follows:

    Good quality

    Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect

    Moderate quality

    Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate

    Insufficient quality

    Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate
    Any estimate of effect is very uncertain

    •  Key recommendations for care are defined by GRADE2 as follows: 

    Strong recommendation

    Used when the desirable effects of an intervention clearly outweigh the undesirable effects or clearly do not

    Discretionary recommendation

    Used when the trade-offs are less certain-either because of low quality evidence or because evidence suggests that desirable and undesirable effects are closely balanced

    • Key recommendations for care are listed in the Highlighted Recommendations for Care section and are repeated in the PPP in boxed text. A key recommendation may address an area of controversy for which there is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation.
    • Literature searches to update the PPP were undertaken in February and August 2010 and retrieved 1128 citations. Of these, 20 were used in the revision. Complete details of the literature search are available in the Literature Search Details section.

    HIGHLIGHTED RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CARE

    Patients 65 or older without risk factors for eye disease should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 1
    (Strong recommendation; moderate evidence)

    Patients under 65 without risk factors for eye disease should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 1
    (Discretionary recommendation; insufficient evidence)

    TABLE 1. Comprehensive Medical Eye Evaluation for Adults With No Risk Factors (PDF 96k)

    Patients with diabetes mellitus should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 2
    (Strong recommendation; moderate evidence)

    Patients with risk factors for glaucoma should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 2
    (Strong recommendation; good evidence)

    TABLE 2. Comprehensive Medical Eye Evaluation for Patients With Diabetes Mellitus or Risk Factors for Glaucoma (PDF 157k)

    INTRODUCTION

    PATIENT POPULATION

    Adults without known ocular conditions or risk factors, or with previously identified conditions or risk factors, or with recurrent or new symptoms.

    CLINICAL OBJECTIVES

    • Detect and diagnose ocular abnormalities and diseases
    • Identify risk factors for ocular disease
    • Identify risk factors for systemic disease based on ocular findings
    • Establish the presence or absence of ocular signs or symptoms of systemic disease
    • Determine the refractive and health status of the eye, visual system, and related structures
    • Discuss the results and implications of the examination with the patient
    • Initiate an appropriate management plan (e.g., determine the frequency of future visits, further diagnostic tests, referral, or treatment as indicated)

    BACKGROUND

    While various levels of medical eye evaluations have been proposed,4 comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation is the focus of this document. Patients may seek this service for a variety of reasons. A comprehensive medical eye evaluation is recommended for patients who have not been examined for a significant period of time by an ophthalmologist or who are being seen for the first time. Recommended intervals between comprehensive examinations vary with age and risk factors. A thorough ophthalmologic evaluation can detect common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors. Such an evaluation can also uncover evidence of many forms of systemic disease with ophthalmic manifestations. All patients, particularly those with risk factors for ocular disease, are re-examined periodically to prevent or minimize visual loss by detecting and treating disease in its early stages. Patients in whom ocular diseases are identified require periodic comprehensive examinations for optimal monitoring and treatment of their conditions. With appropriate and timely intervention, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataract, and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome. Studies have indicated that up to 40% of legal blindness found among nursing home residents,5 in both urban6 and rural7 communities, could have been prevented or ameliorated by appropriate ophthalmologic care. In a population-based study, 63% of the participants who had eye disease were not aware of it.8

    RATIONALE FOR COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL EYE EVALUATIONS

    The rationale for performing periodic comprehensive medical eye examinations in adults without known ocular conditions or risk factors is to detect ocular diseases, visual dysfunction, or ophthalmic signs of systemic disease in the adult population. Early recognition, counseling, or treatment may preserve visual function or, in the case of systemic diseases, could prevent serious illness or premature death. Comprehensive medical eye evaluations are also performed periodically to evaluate new symptoms and monitor patients with previously identified eye conditions or risk factors.

    The public health impact of eye disease is substantial, because vision affects daily functioning.9-13 Improvement in visual function that occurs as a result of treatment of ocular disorders is accompanied by improvement in life satisfaction, mental health, and home and community activities.14-17 Vision plays an important role in mobility and in preventing falls.18-21 Untreated poor vision has been associated with cognitive decline, especially Alzheimer disease.22 In women 65 and older, poorer visual acuity and contrast sensitivity have been associated with a higher risk of mortality.23 Cataract surgery in older drivers has been shown to reduce the subsequent motor vehicle accident rate.24 Visual impairment, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and cataract have been associated with an increased risk of mortality.25,26

    OCULAR DISEASES

    In 2000, about 937,000 adults 40 and older in the United States were legally blind (best corrected vision of 20/200 or less in each eye), and an additional 2.4 million were visually impaired despite best refractive correction.27 The highest frequencies of visual impairment and legal blindness were found in individuals 80 and older.27 Rates of visual impairment and legal blindness were disproportionately higher among individuals of African descent compared with individuals of European descent.27-29 Rates of low vision (defined as visual acuity less than 20/40 in the better-seeing eye) were higher among individuals of Hispanic/Latino descent compared with individuals of European or African descent.27,30

    Many patients will be unaware that they have a vision-threatening ocular condition because of the lack of early symptoms (see Table 3). These include common and often treatable conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

    TABLE 3. Prevalence of Major Ocular Diseases and Conditions that May Be Asymptomatic (PDF 110k)

    Open-Angle Glaucoma
    In the United States, the overall prevalence of open-angle glaucoma for adults 40 and older is estimated to be 1.9%.31 Open-angle glaucoma affects an estimated 2.22 million people in the United States, and by 2020 that number will increase by 50% due to the aging of the population.31 Based on data extrapolated from the Baltimore Eye Survey, about half of those with glaucoma were unaware that they had the disease at the time the study diagnosis was made.32,33 Glaucoma of all types is one of the leading causes of legal blindness in the United States.6,27 The prevalence of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is higher in individuals of West African, Afro-Caribbean, Hispanic, or Latino origin than in other groups.31,32,34-36 Blindness from glaucoma is at least six times more prevalent in African Americans than in Caucasian Americans.6Early detection and treatment of POAG may prevent or delay loss of vision, but, unfortunately, it is often asymptomatic until irreversible visual loss is extensive.37,38

    Primary Angle Closure
    There are considerable differences in the prevalence of angle closure among racial and ethnic groups. The highest rates are reported in Inuit,39-41 Chinese,42-46 and other Asian47-55 populations; lower rates are reported in populations of African and African-derived origin56-58 and European and European-derived origin.35,59-64 Primary angle-closure glaucoma may account for the majority of glaucoma in Asian populations.47,65,66

    Diabetes Mellitus
    An estimated 9% of the U.S. population 20 or older (19 million persons) have diabetes mellitus (both diagnosed and undiagnosed); about one-third are not aware that they have the disease.67 An additional 26% of adults (54 million persons) have impaired fasting blood glucose levels.67 The prevalence rate for retinopathy for all adults 40 and older in the United States is 3.4% (4.1 million persons); the prevalence rate for vision-threatening retinopathy is 0.7% (899,000 persons).68 Assuming a similar prevalence of diabetes mellitus, the projected numbers in 2020 would be 6 million persons with diabetic retinopathy and 1.34 million persons with vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy. Although effective treatment for reducing the risk of blinding diabetic retinopathy is available,69,70 the number of patients with diabetes referred by their primary care physicians or who present for ophthalmic care is far below the guidelines of the American Diabetic Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.71-75 Regular examination and follow-up of all patients with diabetes reinforces the importance of recommended dietary and medication compliance, and can lead to earlier detection and treatment of retinopathy. Regular examinations, coupled with appropriate medical and laser treatment for those who require it, have been shown to be extremely cost-effective in the diabetic population, particularly when compared with disability payments for those who would otherwise become blind.76-78

    Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of severe, irreversible vision impairment among Caucasian Americans.112 In the United States, an estimated 1.75 million individuals 40 and older have AMD, and this number is estimated to increase to 2.95 million by the year 2020.112 The prevalence, incidence, and progression of AMD and most associated features (e.g., large drusen) increase significantly with age.105,106,112 The prevalence of AMD in white females 60 to 64 is 0.3%; the rate increases to 16.4% in white females 80 and older.112 Age-related macular degeneration is usually asymptomatic in its early stages, although it is possible to identify patients who have an increased risk of developing choroidal neovascularization or advanced AMD.110 Identifying those patients at higher risk may result in a greater percentage receiving high-dose nutritional supplements of antioxidants and zinc, which have been shown to have preventative efficacy.113 Of the 1.3 million people considered to be at high risk for progression to advanced AMD for whom the high-dose nutritional supplement of antioxidants and zinc is recommended, more than 300,000 could delay disease progression with associated vision loss if they were identified and treated.113

    Cigarette smoking has been consistently identified in numerous studies as a risk factor for developing AMD, which increases with the number of pack-years smoked.114-121 Therefore, informing patients who smoke about this risk may influence them to stop smoking, thus reducing the incidence of AMD. Patients with neovascular AMD report a substantial decline in quality of life and increased need for assistance with activities of daily living, which progressed as visual acuity worsened.122 Early treatment of AMD carries a more favorable prognosis. Because the early symptoms may be subtle, however, a comprehensive eye examination may represent a patient's best opportunity to be diagnosed and treated at an earlier and potentially more favorable stage, before the development of severe visual loss.

    Cataract
    Cataract remains a significant cause of visual disability in the United States, accounting for approximately 50% of low-vision cases in adults over 40.27 Cataract is the leading cause of treatable blindness among Americans of African descent 40 and older, and the leading cause of low vision among individuals of African, Hispanic/Latino, and European descent.27 Because smoking increases the risk of cataract progression,123,124 informing smokers about this and other associated ocular and systemic diseases may influence them to stop smoking.

    Other Ocular Disorders
    Other examples of high-risk conditions or diseases for which medical eye examinations are indicated include a past history of ocular trauma or the presence of abnormalities of the anterior segment that increase the risk of open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma. High degrees of myopia and abnormalities of the posterior segment such as retinal tears and degenerations increase the risk of retinal detachment.

    SYSTEMIC DISEASES AND CONDITIONS

    Important systemic effects of infectious, neoplastic, autoimmune, and vascular diseases may be revealed during the ocular examination. Therefore, the initial diagnosis of a number of systemic diseases may be made during a comprehensive ophthalmologic evaluation.

    The following components of the comprehensive examination may identify examples of systemic diseases:

    • External examination: orbital tumor, thyroid eye disease, metabolic storage diseases
    • Pupillary function: optic nerve disorders (e.g., optic nerve glioma)
    • Ocular alignment and motility: neurological disorders (e.g., myasthenia gravis, thyroid eye disease, central nervous system defects or aneurysm, multiple sclerosis)
    • Visual fields by confrontation: chiasmal tumors
    • Anterior segment: drug or heavy metal toxicity, sarcoidosis, immune-mediated diseases, metabolic, endocrine, or storage diseases
    • Lens: Alport syndrome, Apert syndrome, atopic disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, myotonic dystrophy, Wilson disease, homocystinuria
    • Posterior segment: systemic hypertension, diabetes mellitus, infectious diseases (e.g., acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, tuberculosis, syphilis, histoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis), immune-mediated diseases, vasculitis, primary or metastatic tumors, metabolic storage diseases and other phakomatoses, hematologic diseases, cerebrovascular disease, increased intracranial pressure, toxicity from hydroxychloroquine, tamoxifen, or phenothiazines

    CARE PROCESS

    A comprehensive medical eye evaluation includes a history, examination, diagnosis, and initiation of management. Included within each part of the evaluation is a series of items particularly effective for the detection, diagnosis, and choice of appropriate therapy for refractive error, ocular disease, and systemic disease. The items listed are basic areas of evaluation or investigation and are not meant to exclude additional elements when appropriate. For example, because history taking is an interactive process, the patient's responses may guide the clinician to pursue additional questions and evaluation.

    HISTORY

    In general, a thorough history may include the following items, although the exact composition varies with the patient's particular problems and needs.

    • Demographic data (e.g., name, date of birth, gender, and, where appropriate, ethnicity or race)
    • The identity of the patient's other pertinent health care providers
    • Chief complaint and history of present illness
    • Present status of visual function (e.g., patient's self-assessment of visual status, visual needs, any recent or current visual symptoms, and use of eyeglasses or contact lenses)
    • Ocular symptoms (e.g., eyelid swelling, diplopia, redness, photophobia)
    • Ocular history (e.g., prior eye diseases, injuries, surgery, including cosmetic eyelid and refractive surgery, or other treatments and medications)
    • Systemic history: pertinent medical conditions and previous surgery
    • Medications: ophthalmic and systemic medications currently used, including nutritional supplements
    • Allergies or adverse reactions to medications
    • Family history: pertinent familial ocular and systemic disease
    • Social history (e.g., occupation; tobacco, alcohol, recreational drug use; family and living situation as appropriate)
    • Directed review of systems

    OCULAR EXAMINATION

    The comprehensive eye examination consists of an evaluation of the physiological function and the anatomical status of the eye, visual system, and its related structures. This usually includes the following elements:

    • Visual acuity with current correction (the power of the present correction recorded) at distance and, when appropriate, at near
    • Measurement of best corrected visual acuity (with a refraction when indicated)
    • Visual fields by confrontation
    • External examination (e.g., eyelid position and character, lashes, lacrimal apparatus and tear function; globe position; and pertinent facial features)
    • Pupillary function (e.g., size and response to light, relative afferent pupillary defect)
    • Ocular alignment and motility
    • Slit-lamp biomicroscopic examination: eyelid margins and lashes; tear film; conjunctiva; sclera; cornea; anterior chamber; and assessment of central and peripheral anterior chamber depth, iris, lens, and anterior vitreous
    • Intraocular pressure measurement, preferably with a contact applanation method (typically a Goldmann tonometer); contact tonometry may be deferred in the setting of suspected ocular infection
    • Fundus examination: mid and posterior vitreous, retina (including posterior pole and periphery), vasculature, and optic nerve
    • Assessment of relevant aspects of patient's mental and physical status

    Examination of anterior segment structures routinely involves gross and biomicroscopic evaluation prior to and after dilation. Evaluation of structures situated posterior to the iris is best performed through a dilated pupil. Optimal examination of the peripheral retina requires the use of the indirect ophthalmoscope or slit-lamp fundus biomicroscopy. Optimal examination of the macula and optic nerve requires the use of the slit-lamp biomicroscope and accessory diagnostic lenses.

    Based on the patient's history and findings, additional tests or evaluations might be indicated to evaluate further a particular structure or function. These are not routinely part of the comprehensive medical eye clinical evaluation. Specialized clinical evaluation may include the following:        

    • Monocular near-vision testing
    • Potential acuity testing
    • Glare testing
    • Contrast sensitivity testing
    • Color-vision testing
    • Testing of stereoacuity and fusion
    • Testing of accommodation and convergence amplitudes
    • Central visual field testing (Amsler grid)
    • Pupillometry
    • Expanded evaluation of ocular motility and alignment in multiple fields of gaze at distance and near
    • Exophthalmometry (e.g., Hertel)
    • Tear breakup time
    • Schirmer testing and ocular surface dye staining
    • Corneal sensation
    • Gonioscopy
    • Functional evaluation of the nasolacrimal tear drainage system
    • Extended indirect ophthalmoscopy with scleral indentation
    • Contact lens stereoscopic biomicroscopy (e.g., Goldmann three-mirror lens)

    Additional diagnostic testing may include the following:

    • Analysis of the corneal shape (e.g., keratometry and/or corneal topography)
    • Ocular wavefront analysis (aberrometry)
    • Measurement of corneal thickness (pachymetry)
    • Corneal endothelial cell analysis
    • External, slit-lamp, or fundus photography
    • Anterior and posterior segment imaging (e.g., optical coherence tomography, Scheimpflug photography, high-frequency ultrasound, or confocal microscopy)
    • Visual fields by automated perimetry
    • Stereophotography or computer-based image analysis of the optic disc and retinal nerve fiber layer or macula
    • Ophthalmic ultrasonography
    • Fluorescein or indocyanine green angiography
    • Electrophysiological testing
    • Microbiology and cytology
    • In-office point-of-care testing (i.e., immunochromatography)
    • Radiologic testing
    • Laboratory tests for systemic disease

    DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT

    The ophthalmologist evaluates and integrates the findings of the comprehensive ophthalmologic examination with all aspects of the patient's health status and social situation in determining an appropriate course of action. Patients are considered in one of three general categories based on the results of the evaluation: patients with no risk factors, patients with risk factors, and patients with conditions that require intervention.

    Category I: Patients with No Risk Factors
    When the initial comprehensive evaluation is normal or involves only optical abnormalities that require corrective lenses, the ophthalmologist reviews the findings with the patient and advises him/her of the appropriate interval for re-examination. Although this category of patients is considered low risk, periodic re-examination is indicated to detect new, potentially asymptomatic, or unrecognized ocular disease, the incidence of which increases with age, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and AMD.

    A 5-year observationalstudy of a nationally representative cohort of Medicare beneficiaries showed that patients 65 and older who had more regular eye examinations experienced less decline in vision and functional status than those who had less frequent examinations.125 For each additional year in which a patient received an eye examination, there was an increased likelihood of continuing to read newsprint and maintaining activities of daily living, and a decreased risk of developing new limitations in activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. Instrumental activities of daily living are activities related to independent living and include preparing meals, managing money, shopping for groceries or personal items, performing light or heavy housework, and using a telephone.

    There is no strong evidence in the literature to define the optimal frequency of periodic eye examinations of patients under 65 with no eye symptoms or signs. There is some evidence that clinically significant fundus abnormalities in asymptomatic patients increase with age,126 but other evidence suggests that the diagnostic yield of dilated fundus examination in asymptomatic patients is not high, particularly in younger age groups.127 In the absence of symptoms or other indications following the initial comprehensive medical eye evaluation, periodic evaluations are recommended at the frequency indicated in Table 1, which takes into account the relationship between increasing age and the risk of asymptomatic or undiagnosed disease. At the time of each comprehensive medical eye evaluation, the ophthalmologist will reassess the patient to determine the appropriate follow-up interval. Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should receive a comprehensive medical eye evaluation at age 40 if they have not previously received one.128

    Interim evaluations, such as screenings, refractions, or less extensive evaluations, are indicated to address episodic minor problems and complaints or for patient reassurance.Other situations may warrant a comprehensive medical eye evaluation. The extent of the interim evaluation to be performed is determined by the patient's condition and complaints and by the ophthalmologist's medical judgment.

    Patients 65 or older without risk factors for eye disease should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 1
    (Strong recommendation; moderate evidence)

    Patients under 65 without risk factors for eye disease should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 1
    (Discretionary recommendation; insufficient evidence)

    TABLE 1. Comprehensive Medical Eye Evaluation for Adults With No Risk Factors (PDF 96k)

    Category II: Patients with Risk Factors
    A patient is considered to be at increased risk when the evaluation reveals signs that are suggestive of a potentially abnormal condition or when risk factors for developing ocular disease are identified but the patient does not yet require intervention. These situations may merit closer follow-up to monitor the patient's ocular health and to detect early signs of disease.

    The ophthalmologist determines an appropriate follow-up interval for each patient based on the presence of early signs, risk factors, the incidence of disease, and the potential rate of progression of a given disease. For example, individuals of African descent might require more frequent examinations, because they are at higher risk for an earlier onset and more rapid progression of glaucoma due to the higher risk in this population. It is recommended that patients with the conditions and risk factors noted in Table 2 undergo a comprehensive medical eye evaluation at the listed intervals.

    Patients with diabetes mellitus should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 2
    (Strong recommendation; moderate evidence)

    Patients with risk factors for glaucoma should have comprehensive medical eye evaluations at the intervals shown in Table 2
    (Strong recommendation; good evidence)

    TABLE 2. Comprehensive Medical Eye Evaluation for Patients With Diabetes Mellitus or Risk Factors for Glaucoma (PDF 157k)

    Category III: Conditions that Require Intervention
    For a patient with ophthalmic or refractive abnormalities, the ophthalmologist prescribes glasses, contact lenses, or other optical devices; treats with medications; arranges for additional evaluation, testing, and follow-up as appropriate; and performs nonsurgical or surgical procedures including laser surgery when indicated.

    The ophthalmologist should communicate the examination findings and the need for further evaluation, testing, treatment, or follow-up. Certain findings should be shared with the patient's primary care physician or other specialists, as appropriate. For a patient with systemic abnormalities, the ophthalmologist may advise further evaluation or referral, as appropriate.

    Vision rehabilitation restores functional ability,129 and patients with reduced visual function may be referred for vision rehabilitation and social services.130 More information on vision rehabilitation, including materials for patients, is available at www.aao.org/smartsight.

    PROVIDER

    Of all health care providers, the ophthalmologist best combines a thorough understanding of ocular pathology and disease processes; familiarity with systemic disorders with ocular manifestations; and clinical skills and experience in ocular diagnosis, treatment, and medical decision making. This makes the ophthalmologist the most qualified professional to perform and oversee a comprehensive medical eye evaluation. Frequently, and appropriately, some testing and data collection are conducted by trained personnel under the ophthalmologist's supervision.

    SOCIOECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS

    In 2006, the societal cost of major visual disorders (AMD, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, POAG, refractive errors) among U.S. residents 40 and older was estimated to be $35.4 billion. This total comprised $16.2 billion in direct medical costs, $11.1 billion in other direct costs, and $8 billion in productivity losses.131 These costs do not include associated comorbid conditions such as depression or injury.

    In another study, U.S. residents 40 and older with blindness or visual impairment had estimated excess medical expenditures of $5.1 billion.132 This estimate includes the cost of home care and informal care for blind and visually impaired adults. The study also estimated that the total number of quality adjusted life years lost for individuals with blindness or visual impairment was 209,000. Valuing each year lost at $50,000 would add $10.4 billion to this estimate of the annual economic impact of visual impairment and blindness.

    In Australia, researchers estimated that the economic impact and cost in 2004 was A$9.85 billion (≈ US$7.02 billion), with vision disorders ranking seventh in the direct health care costs of various health conditions.133 Vision loss was also the seventh leading cause of disability in Australia, with the years of life lost to disability valued at A$4.8 billion (≈ US$3.42 billion) annually.

    In 2006, the annual nonmedical costs related to visual impairment in four European countries (France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) were estimated at €10,749 million (≈ US$13,712 million) in France, €9,214 million (≈ US$11,754 million) in Germany, €12,069 million (≈ US$15,396 million) in Italy and €15,180 million (≈ US$19,364 million) in the United Kingdom.134

    APPENDIX 1. QUALITY OF OPHTHALMIC CARE CORE CRITERIA

    Providing quality care
    is the physician's foremost ethical obligation, and is
    the basis of public trust in physicians.
    AMA Board of Trustees, 1986

    Quality ophthalmic care is provided in a manner and with the skill that is consistent with the best interests of the patient. The discussion that follows characterizes the core elements of such care.

    The ophthalmologist is first and foremost a physician. As such, the ophthalmologist demonstrates compassion and concern for the individual, and utilizes the science and art of medicine to help alleviate patient fear and suffering. The ophthalmologist strives to develop and maintain clinical skills at the highest feasible level, consistent with the needs of patients, through training and continuing education. The ophthalmologist evaluates those skills and medical knowledge in relation to the needs of the patient and responds accordingly. The ophthalmologist also ensures that needy patients receive necessary care directly or through referral to appropriate persons and facilities that will provide such care, and he or she supports activities that promote health and prevent disease and disability.

    The ophthalmologist recognizes that disease places patients in a disadvantaged, dependent state. The ophthalmologist respects the dignity and integrity of his or her patients, and does not exploit their vulnerability.

    Quality ophthalmic care has the following optimal attributes, among others.

    • The essence of quality care is a meaningful partnership relationship between patient and physician. The ophthalmologist strives to communicate effectively with his or her patients, listening carefully to their needs and concerns. In turn, the ophthalmologist educates his or her patients about the nature and prognosis of their condition and about proper and appropriate therapeutic modalities. This is to ensure their meaningful participation (appropriate to their unique physical, intellectual and emotional state) in decisions affecting their management and care, to improve their motivation and compliance with the agreed plan of treatment, and to help alleviate their fears and concerns.
    • The ophthalmologist uses his or her best judgment in choosing and timing appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic modalities as well as the frequency of evaluation and follow-up, with due regard to the urgency and nature of the patient's condition and unique needs and desires.
    • The ophthalmologist carries out only those procedures for which he or she is adequately trained, experienced and competent, or, when necessary, is assisted by someone who is, depending on the urgency of the problem and availability and accessibility of alternative providers.
    • Patients are assured access to, and continuity of, needed and appropriate ophthalmic care, which can be described as follows.
      • The ophthalmologist treats patients with due regard to timeliness, appropriateness, and his or her own ability to provide such care.
      • The operating ophthalmologist makes adequate provision for appropriate pre- and postoperative patient care.
      • When the ophthalmologist is unavailable for his or her patient, he or she provides appropriate alternate ophthalmic care, with adequate mechanisms for informing patients of the existence of such care and procedures for obtaining it.
      • The ophthalmologist refers patients to other ophthalmologists and eye care providers based on the timeliness and appropriateness of such referral, the patient's needs, the competence and qualifications of the person to whom the referral is made, and access and availability.
      • The ophthalmologist seeks appropriate consultation with due regard to the nature of the ocular or other medical or surgical problem. Consultants are suggested for their skill, competence, and accessibility. They receive as complete and accurate an accounting of the problem as necessary to provide efficient and effective advice or intervention, and in turn respond in an adequate and timely manner.
      • The ophthalmologist maintains complete and accurate medical records.
      • On appropriate request, the ophthalmologist provides a full and accurate rendering of the patient's records in his or her possession.
      • The ophthalmologist reviews the results of consultations and laboratory tests in a timely and effective manner and takes appropriate actions.
      • The ophthalmologist and those who assist in providing care identify themselves and their profession
      • For patients whose conditions fail to respond to treatment and for whom further treatment is unavailable, the ophthalmologist provides proper professional support, counseling, rehabilitative and social services, and referral as appropriate and accessible.
    • Prior to therapeutic or invasive diagnostic procedures, the ophthalmologist becomes appropriately conversant with the patient's condition by collecting pertinent historical information and performing relevant preoperative examinations. Additionally, he or she enables the patient to reach a fully informed decision by providing an accurate and truthful explanation of the diagnosis; the nature, purpose, risks, benefits, and probability of success of the proposed treatment and of alternative treatment; and the risks and benefits of no treatment.
    • The ophthalmologist adopts new technology (e.g., drugs, devices, surgical techniques) in judicious fashion, appropriate to the cost and potential benefit relative to existing alternatives and to its demonstrated safety and efficacy.
    • The ophthalmologist enhances the quality of care he or she provides by periodically reviewing and assessing his or her personal performance in relation to established standards, and by revising or altering his or her practices and techniques appropriately.
    • The ophthalmologist improves ophthalmic care by communicating to colleagues, through appropriate professional channels, knowledge gained through clinical research and practice. This includes alerting colleagues of instances of unusual or unexpected rates of complications and problems related to new drugs, devices or procedures.
    • The ophthalmologist provides care in suitably staffed and equipped facilities adequate to deal with potential ocular and systemic complications requiring immediate attention.
    • The ophthalmologist also provides ophthalmic care in a manner that is cost effective without unacceptably compromising accepted standards of quality.


    Reviewed by: Council
    Approved by: Board of Trustees
    October 12, 1988

    2nd Printing: January 1991
    3rd Printing: August 2001
    4th Printing: July 2005

    RELATED ACADEMY MATERIALS

    Basic and Clinical Science Course
         Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology (Section 2, 2010-2011)

    Clinical Education - Residents
         Practical Ophthalmology: A Manual for Beginning Residents, 6th ed. (2009)

    To order any of these materials, please call the Academy's Customer Service number, 866.561.8558 (U.S. only) or 415.561.8540 or visit www.aao.org/store.

    REFERENCES

    1. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. SIGN 50: a guideline developer's handbook. Available at: www.sign.ac.uk/methodology/index.html. Accessed September 23, 2010
    2. Guyatt GH, Oxman AD, Vist GE, et al. GRADE: an emerging consensus on rating quality of evidence and strength of recommendations. BMJ 2008;336:924-6.
    3. GRADE Working Group. Organizations that have endorsed or that are using GRADE. Available at: www.gradeworkinggroup.org/society/index.htm. Accessed August 27, 2010.
    4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Core Eye Care Benefits Package. San Francisco, CA: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1993.
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    PPP COMMITTEE/PANEL MEMBERS AND DISCLOSURES

    Members
    Christopher J. Rapuano, MD, Chair
    David F. Chang, MD
    Emily Y. Chew, MD
    Robert S. Feder, MD
    Stephen D. McLeod, MD
    Bruce E. Prum, Jr., MD
    R. Michael Siatkowski, MD
    David C. Musch, PhD, MPH, Methodologist

    Academy Staff
    Flora C. Lum, MD
    Nancy Collins, RN, MPH
    Doris Mizuiri
    Medical Editor: Susan Garratt
    Design: Socorro Soberano
    Reviewed by: Council
    Approved by:  Board of Trustees
                         September 11, 2010

    The committee members have disclosed the following financial relationships occurring from January 2010 to September 2010:

    David F. Chang, MD: Alcon Laboratories, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor; Allergan, Inc. - Lecture fees; Calhoun Vision, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor, Equity owner; Eyemaginations, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor, Patent/Royalty; Ista Pharmaceuticals - Consultant/Advisor, Grant support; LensAR - Consultant/Advisor; Hoya - Consultant/Advisor; Revital Vision - Equity owner; SLACK, Inc. - Patent/Royalty; Transcend Medical - Consultant/Advisor

    Emily Y. Chew, MD: No financial relationships to disclose

    Robert S. Feder, MD: Aton Pharma, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor

    Stephen D. McLeod, MD: Abbott Medical Optics - Consultant/Advisor, Equity owner; Visiogen, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor, Equity owner

    David C. Musch, PhD, MPH: Glaukos Corp. - Consultant/Advisor; MacuSight, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor; National Eye Institute - Grant support; NeoVista, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor; Neurotech USA, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor; Oraya Therapeutics, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor; Pfizer Ophthalmics - Grant support; Washington University - Grant support

    Bruce E. Prum, Jr., MD: Alcon Laboratories, Inc. - Grant support; Allergan, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor

    Christopher J. Rapuano, MD: Alcon Laboratories, Inc. - Lecture fees; Allergan, Inc. - Consultant/Advisor, Lecture fees; Bausch & Lomb - Lecture fees; Inspire - Lecture fees; EyeGate Pharma - Consultant/Advisor; Inspire - Lecture fees; Rapid Pathogen Screening - Equity owner; Vistakon Johnson & Johnson Visioncare, Inc. - Lecture fees

    R. Michael Siatkowski, MD: National Eye Institute - Grant support

    Copyright © 2010
    American Academy of Ophthalmology
    All rights reserved

    This document should be cited as:
    American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern® Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation. San Francisco, CA: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2010. Available at: www.aao.org/ppp.

    Preferred Practice Patterns are developed by the Academy's H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., M.D. Center for Quality Eye Care without any external financial support. Authors and reviewers of PPPs are volunteers and do not receive any financial compensation for their contributions to the documents. The PPPs are externally reviewed by experts and stakeholders before publication.

    OBJECTIVES OF PREFERRED PRACTICE PATTERN® GUIDELINES

    As a service to its members and the public, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has developed a series of clinical practice guidelines called Preferred Practice Patterns that identify characteristics and components of quality eye care. Appendix 1 describes the core criteria of quality eye care.

    The Preferred Practice Pattern® (PPP) guidelines are based on the best available scientific data as interpreted by panels of knowledgeable health professionals. In some instances, such as when results of carefully conducted clinical trials are available, the data are particularly persuasive and provide clear guidance. In other instances, the panels have to rely on their collective judgment and evaluation of available evidence.

    Preferred Practice Pattern guidelines provide the pattern of practice, not the care of a particular individual. While they should generally meet the needs of most patients, they cannot possibly best meet the needs of all patients. Adherence to these PPPs will not ensure a successful outcome in every situation. These practice patterns should not be deemed inclusive of all proper methods of care or exclusive of other methods of care reasonably directed at obtaining the best results. It may be necessary to approach different patients' needs in different ways. The physician must make the ultimate judgment about the propriety of the care of a particular patient in light of all of the circumstances presented by that patient. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is available to assist members in resolving ethical dilemmas that arise in the course of ophthalmic practice.

    Preferred Practice Pattern guidelines are not medical standards to be adhered to in all individual situations. The Academy specifically disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages of any kind, from negligence or otherwise, for any and all claims that may arise out of the use of any recommendations or other information contained herein.

    References to certain drugs, instruments, and other products are made for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to constitute an endorsement of such. Such material may include information on applications that are not considered community standard, that reflect indications not included in approved U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling, or that are approved for use only in restricted research settings. The FDA has stated that it is the responsibility of the physician to determine the FDA status of each drug or device he or she wishes to use, and to use them with appropriate patient consent in compliance with applicable law. 

    Innovation in medicine is essential to assure the future health of the American public, and the Academy encourages the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods that will improve eye care. It is essential to recognize that true medical excellence is achieved only when the patients' needs are the foremost consideration.

    All PPPs are reviewed by their parent panel annually or earlier if developments warrant and updated accordingly. To ensure that all PPPs are current, each is valid for 5 years from the "approved by" date unless superseded by a revision. Preferred Practice Pattern guidelines are funded by the Academy without commercial support. Authors and reviewers of PPPs are volunteers and do not receive any financial compensation for their contributions to the document. The PPPs are externally reviewed by experts and stakeholders before publication.

    The intended users of the Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation Preferred Practice Pattern guideline are ophthalmologists.