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OPT009: Glaucoma Foundation

There are four modules that cover the subject area of glaucoma - providing the opportunity for 60 credits in total. The publication of the NICE guidelines, 'Glaucoma - Diagnosis and management of chronic open angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension' in 2009 has altered the way in which optometrists in primary care manage and refer cases of ocular hypertension or suspect glaucoma. These modules have been specifically designed to complement the levels of activity and responsibility that optometrists could undertake in community and hospital practice. The content is aligned wherever possible with national pathways for enhanced services and professional accreditation schemes - as such, they are subject to change.

This module is designed with the aim of providing postgraduate optometrists with the background knowledge and understanding about the pathogenesis and detection of glaucoma at an advanced level. As well as teaching the practical skills needed to provide a consistent approach glaucoma detection in primary care at a basic level. This module is particularly suitable for those who wish to update their knowledge in this area before providing enhanced services.

This module, along with OPT010, is accredited by The College of Optometrists for the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma.

Start dateSeptember
Duration22 contact hours over one academic term
Credits10 credits - CET points available
Module tutorsNik Sheen (Leader)
Module codeOPT009

Additional information: This module is aligned with WOPEC/LOCSU training pathways for glaucoma. It complements OPT010, OPT011, OPT012 and OPT016.

Learning objectives

To acquire knowledge and understanding at an advanced level about:

  • The link between intra-ocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma, and revise the extraneous and measurement errors which affect measurement of IOP
  • The underlying anatomy and physiology which dictate where and why visual field loss occurs in chronic open angle glaucoma (COAG)
  • Choosing the most appropriate field examination for investigation of suspect COAG.
  • Epidemiology and risk factors of the various types of glaucoma, particularly concentrating on COAG and ocular hypertension (OHT)
  • Difference between open and narrow anterior chamber angle and primary and secondary glaucoma, and how to form a basic classification based on these differences.
  • NICE guidelines for monitoring of previously diagnosed and untreated OHT and suspect glaucoma
  • NICE guidelines for referral of OHT and COAG from primary to secondary care.
  • The link between IOP and glaucoma, and revise the extraneous and measurement errors which affect measurement of IOP
  • The specific signs of glaucomatous optic disc changes
  • The principles of Van Herick's technique and the variations in the angle.

To apply this knowledge to given clinical situations and demonstrate how you would:

  • Interpret the visual field plot of a Humphrey Visual Field Analyser with particular reference to COAG
  • Look for signs of glaucomatous optic disc changes using a VOLK lens
  • Assess the anterior chamber angle using Van Herick's technique
  • Calibrate and use the Goldmann Applanation Tonometer (GAT).

How the module will be delivered

This module is taught via 5 lectures (Powerpoint with audio and Xerte), delivered via Learning Central, the University’s e-learning system, with supporting resources and references supplied. There are also online formative learning sessions centred around cases for discussion.

How the module will be assessed

Students will have an opportunity to submit a piece of written coursework for formative assessment and feedback.

Visual Recognition and Interpretation of Clinical Signs (VRICS) Formative Coursework:  VRICS are similar to MCQs but each question is linked to image slides of relevant cases. These will be used to facilitate learning and not as assessed coursework.

Online Examination (50%): There is a MCQ test that will assess comprehension and application across the entire syllabus which students take at the end of the lecture series.

Written Coursework (50%): Students will be required to submit one final piece of written coursework. In preparation for the coursework formative case blogs will be introduced during the semester.

Syllabus content

  • NICE Guidelines.
  • Epidemiology and risk factors for glaucoma.
  • Signs and symptoms of glaucoma.
  • Optic disc assessment in glaucoma.
  • Assessment of the anterior angle.
  • Assessment of visual fields.
  • Introduction to referral refinement.
  • Goldmann tonometry.
  • Epidemiology and Risk factors for glaucoma.
  • Signs and symptoms of glaucoma.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Academic skills

  • Understanding evidence-based medicine.
  • Collate information from a number of resources to improve learning.

Subject-specific skills

  • The enhancement of clinical examination techniques.
  • Patient management.
  • Appropriate referral pathways.

Generic skills

  • Time management.
  • Working independently.
  • Problem solving.
  • Communication skills.


Glaucoma: Diagnosis and management of chronic open angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension (NICE guidelines)