People living in residential facilities may have better visual outcomes and improved emotional well-being if they receive care from an on-site ocular treatment center as opposed to being referred out for external care, a new study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests.

A residential ocular care model was conducted in 38 Australian facilities from 2015 to 2017. The researchers found that the model was effective in improving near vision, quality of life and perceived burden of vision-related symptoms in patients with vision impairment.

The study included 178 visually impaired individuals living in residential care facilities who were approximately 84 years old. The study enrolled slightly more women (65.7%) than men. The participants were randomized into two groups: 95 in the residential ocular care group and 83 in the usual, referral-based care group.

The in-house care arm received a tailored and comprehensive on-site eye exam and rehabilitation, while usual care participants were referred to an external eye care provider. Outcomes included presenting distance and near visual acuity, reading ability, emotional, mobility and quality of vision scores, Euroqol-5-Dimensions and six-month frequency of falls. Investigators assessed the outcomes at baseline and again at six months post intervention.

At six months, the study found significant improvements in presenting distance and near visual acuity in addition to emotional and quality of vision scores in the in-house ocular care patients compared with those who were referred out.

No other differences were observed between the groups.

Future studies that evaluate the cost effectiveness and implementation of residential ocular care are warranted, the researchers noted in their paper on the study.

Man REK, Gan ATL, Constantinou M, et al. Effectiveness of an innovative and comprehensive eye care model for individuals in residential care facilities: results of the residential ocular care (ROC) multi-centered randomized controlled trial. Br J Ophthalmol. February 19, 2010. [Epub ahead of print].