Optometry is a form of healthcare practice that provides patients or clients with an assessment of their vision and eye health. Despite being an important field of healthcare in the UK and beyond, it has received little analytic attention in the social sciences. Our research aims to provide a corpus of findings concerning everyday optometric consultations and inform practice and training. In particular our studies are concerned with:
- the social and interactional organisation of eye examinations and treatment recommendations;
- the practices through which optometrists assess vision and ocular health in interaction with clients across a range of different settings and circumstances
- the ways in which various tools and technologies feature in the consultation and the assessment and management of vision and eye health;
- providing optometrists with insights and findings that can enhance practice and performance.
We have undertaken a two-year project on ‘The practical work of the Optometrist’ funded by the ESRC. A second project – ‘The practical work of optometrists’ has taken place between 2013 and 2014 to enhance the practical application of these findings. The project involved the video-recording and analysis of over 60 consultations in a range of optometric practices, including ‘high-street’ optician chains, commercial community practices and student clinics. The video recordings were augmented by fieldwork observations and narrative interviews with optometrists. Drawing on relevant insights from ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and workplace studies, the issues addressed by the study include:
- the practices through which optometrists initiate consultations – in particular how they attempt to elicit and identify any difficulties that clients are experiencing;
- the contingent deployment of standard tests and procedures, and the ways in which the accomplishment of tests and their ‘reliable’ outcomes emerges through, and is dependent on, interaction;
- the proper deployment of tools and technologies as establishing situationally appropriate conduct in the examination; and
- the performance of specialised tasks as reliant on, and embedded, the interaction al organisation of the consultation.
Our project findings have made a substantial empirical contribution to our understanding of healthcare, professional practice, work and organisation. They have also made a distinctive conceptual and theoretical contribution to social science research and studies of interaction as well as demonstrating the methodologicalrelevance of video-based analyses to in-depth, inductive qualitative analysis that scrutinises the interactional role of vocal and visible phenomena in everyday practice. Our findings offer a range of practical applications and we have enjoyed building up strong working relationships with professional optometrists and optometric organisations. These implications and relationships have been drawn out in a knowledge exchange project ‘The practical work of the optometrist 2’ co-funded by the ESRC and the College of Optometrists. In partnership with the College of Optometrist we have prepared and disseminated a communication skills package and an CET credit-bearing online course on ‘Communication Skills in Optometry’ that currently benefits optometric practitioners, trainers and organisations.
vom Lehn, D., & C. Heath (2021). Embedding Impact in Research Addressing the Interactional Production of Workplace Activities. British Journal of Management, Early View.
Due, Brian L., vom Lehn, Dirk, Webb, Helena, Heath, Christian, and Johan Tærup. 2020. Seeing the Body: Placing Glasses on the Client’s Head at the Optician. Visual Studies, Vol.35(2-3): 109-123.
Gibson, Will, & D. vom Lehn. 2019. Seeing as accountable action: The interactional accomplishment of sensorial work. Current Sociology, Vol.68 (1): 77-96.
vom Lehn, Dirk. 2018. „Probing the art/science binary. Notes on the experimental achievement of shared perception“. In Practicing Art/Science, herausgegeben von Philippe Sormani, Guelfo Carbone, und Priska Gisler, 101–24. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
vom Lehn, Dirk, Helena Webb, Christian Heath, und William Gibson. 2017. „Objective Measures and Subjective Reports. Examining Optometric Practice Video-Based Research in Organizational Settings“. International Review of Qualitative Research10 (2): 128–48.
vom Lehn, Dirk, Helena Webb, Christian Heath, und William Gibson. 2015. „Sehen professionell Sehen. Die interaktive Konstitution visueller Wahrnehmung durch Optiker und ihre Klienten“. In Die Sinnlichkeit des Sozialen. Wahrnehmung und materielle Kultur. Edited by Sophia Prinz und Hanna Katharina Göbel, 399–415. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
vom Lehn, Dirk, Helena Webb, Christian Heath, und Will Gibson. 2013. „Assessing distance vision as interactional achievement: A study of commensuration in action“. Soziale Welt. Vol.64 (1–2): 115–36.
Webb, H., vom Lehn, D., Heath, C., and W. Gibson. (2013). Engendering Response: Professional Gesture and the Assessment of Eyesight in Optometry ConsultationsSymbolic Interaction, 36, 2: 137-158.
Webb, H., Heath, C., vom Lehn, D. and W. Gibson (2013). The Problem With “Problems”: The Case of Openings in Optometry Consultations. Research on Language and Interaction. Vol.46(1), 65-83.
Gibson, Will, Helena Webb, und Dirk vom Lehn. 2011. „Re constituting social praxis an ethnomethodological analysis of video data in optometry consultations“. International Journal of Social Research Methodology14 (3): 207–18. doi:10.1080/13645579.2011.563618.