A novel tool for engaging eye care clinicians in patient education about the ocular health risks of tobacco smoking

Dr Laura Downie1, Associate Professor Peter Keller1

1Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

Aim: Smoking is a key modifiable risk factor for sight-threatening eye disease. The main aim was to develop a tool, based upon the best-available evidence, to enable eye care clinicians to accurately quantify three key aspects of patient smoking behaviour: risk of smoking-related eye disease, level of nicotine dependence and motivation to quit smoking. We also sought to evaluate public perceptions regarding the role of optometrists in providing patient education about smoking behaviours, and assess the utility of the tool in a primary eye care setting.

Method: A 10-item ‘quantitative clinical smoking behaviour’ tool was developed, based upon a systematic literature review. A convenience sample of adults (n=220), attending the University of Melbourne eye care clinic, was recruited to assess the usability of the tool and complete a survey assessing their perception of the role of optometrists in providing care in this domain.

Results: The tool was easily implemented in an optometry practice, with 99% of participants providing independent and fully-complete responses. Most respondents expected their optometrist to ask them about their smoking status (60%) and were comfortable discussing their smoking behaviours (69%).

Significance of the findings to allied health: It is critical that eye care clinicians assess and advise patients about the ocular risks of smoking and benefits of smoking cessation. Broader implementation of this tool into eye care practices will likely translate into enhanced care delivery in this important practice area.