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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JMB, MKC, JF, AG, and CRR had the original ideas for the study. All authors developed the protocol. SEC, AG, JB, CRR conducted the Delphi survey and performed the analysis. AAB gave clinical advice on each round of the Delphi process. All authors contributed to revisions of the paper.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Early detection is advocated but there is insufficient evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to inform health policy on population screening. Primarily, there is no agreed screening intervention. For a screening programme, agreement is required on the screening tests to be used, either individually or in combination, the person to deliver the test and the location where testing should take place. This study aimed to use ophthalmologists (who were experienced glaucoma subspecialists), optometrists, ophthalmic nurses and patients to develop a reduced set of potential screening tests and testing arrangements that could then be explored in depth in a further study of their feasibility for evaluation in a glaucoma screening RCT.
A two-round Delphi survey involving 38 participants was conducted. Materials were developed from a prior evidence synthesis. For round one, after some initial priming questions in four domains, specialists were asked to nominate three screening interventions, the intervention being a combination of the four domains; target population, (age and higher risk groups), site, screening test and test operator (provider). More than 250 screening interventions were identified. For round two, responses were condensed into 72 interventions and each was rated by participants on a 0-10 scale in terms of feasibility.
Using a cut-off of a median rating of feasibility of ≥5.5 as evidence of agreement of intervention feasibility, six interventions were identified from round 2. These were initiating screening at age 50, with a combination of two or three screening tests (varying combinations of tonometry/measures of visual function/optic nerve damage) organized in a community setting with an ophthalmic trained technical assistant delivering the tests. An alternative intervention was a ‘glaucoma risk score’ ascertained by questionnaire. The advisory panel recommended that further exploration of the feasibility of screening higher risk populations and detailed specification of the screening tests was required.
With systematic use of expert opinions, a shortlist of potential screening interventions was identified. Views of users, service providers and cost-effectiveness modeling are now required to identify a feasible intervention to evaluate in a future glaucoma screening trial.