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A national dataset for refractive surgery

Helping patients and doctors stay in touch with results

Helping patients and doctors stay in touch with results

Doctors notes are notorious for their unreadable writing, and will often not gather information in a way that helps surveys of medical records to produce reliable information about which techniques and which technologies are producing the best results.

Clinical trials improve on this by ensuring that information is gathered in a structured way, but they are expensive and slow to complete. This is particularly problematic in a fast-moving field like vision correction surgery (refractive surgery). If a clinical trial takes five years from planning to completion, the implant or laser technique being studied may be obsolete by the time results appear.

The advent of paperless, computerized electronic healthcare record (EHR) systems offers an exciting alternative to conventional clinical trials. Information from EHR systems can be pooled in a national registry and studied to create an accurate, up to date picture of which techniques and which technologies are performing best.

The first step to creating national registries is to ensure that EHR systems are designed to collect the right information. For each specialist area, we need to agree a ‘minimum dataset’ or set of measurements for the results of a treatment that everyone builds into their routine eye health examination records.

Minimum datasets have already been defined and used in national registry projects in the UK and internationally – notably for cataract surgery. One of the most important pieces of work following on from the April 2017 Professional Standards has been to convene an expert panel at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists to agree a minimum dataset for refractive surgery.

A year on, we have the first version of the National Dataset for Refractive Surgery agreed and published on the Royal College website. This lays the foundation for national registry studies which will help doctors and patients make the right choices in surgery to correct vision.


National Dataset


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