The Cochrane Collaboration

15 mins

The Cochrane Collaboration


Keeping up-to-date with the latest research...

Basic and clinical research that is related to optometric clinical practice is always being conducted at many sites worldwide. Consequently, there is a constant stream of new optometry-related research available in peer-reviewed journals. It is not feasible for the practitioner to critically read all of these emerging research reports. So, how does the optometrist maintain currency of knowledge based on evidence of the highest quality? The information must be filtered in some way, with the aim of drawing the practitioner’s attention to the most reliable and relevant information. Various forms of filters exist. In Medicine and some allied health areas, tools such as clinical decision support systems, the 'bestBETS' database and resources such as speechbite, psycbite and OTseeker exist to provide fast access to the current best evidence relevant to particular clinical questions. In optometry, clinical management guidelines such as those provided by the College of Optometrists allow fast access to best evidence for therapeutic providers,  no system currently provides best evidence for the full range of optometric clinical questions, so filtered (secondary) evidence is obtained via various sources. Continuing professional education, for example, is intended to provide information on a particular topic that is up to date and relevant to clinical practice, and which has the potential for application in clinical practice. Recipients of information through this filter must be aware of the fact that filters themselves vary in reliability, in the same way as the original source of information. Journal editors are also filters, as are the writers. Thus, while receiving information via continuing education or other filters, the recipient must use appropriate criteria to make a judgment on whether the information is likely to be reliable, and whether it can be applied in practice.


Systematic reviewing of the literature

In 1972, Archie Cochrane pointed out the importance of properly testing the effectiveness of health care strategies, and stressed the role of randomized controlled studies to provide evidence on which health care is based. Discussions around this point formed the foundation for what was to become the Cochrane Collaboration, an international non-profit organization consisting of review groups set up with the intention of providing systemic reviews of the literature on a range of health care questions, to support evidence-based clinical practice. Review groups serve over 50 health care areas including Injuries, Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders, Breast Cancer, Oral Health, Public Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Pregnancy and Childbirth, and others ( When a Cochrane review is published on a particular clinical question or issue, repeat reviews are conducted biennially to ensure the review remains current.


The Eyes and Vision review group

One review group focuses on Eyes and Vision, and was established in 1997 aiming “to prepare, maintain and promote access to systematic reviews of all the interventions used to prevent or treat eye diseases and/or visual impairment”. The group accepts suggestions for reviews, and invites potential contributors to volunteer for any of a number of roles within the organization, including authorship of a review, hand-searching (manually searching the literature for non-indexed publications), editing, and providing advice on methodology of the studies under review. Suggestions for new reviews are invited, and if a new title is registered, this information is provided openly on the Internet site, to make it known that the review is intended, and thus avoid duplication of effort. Reviews from this group investigate a wide range of clinical questions, including: Vision screening for amblyopia in childhood; Interventions for normal tension glaucoma; Reading aids for adults with low vision; Antibiotics for trachoma. At the time of writing (October 2012) over 170 systemic reviews have been published by the Cochrane Eye and Vision group, and a similar number of titles have been registered as intended reviews.

EBP Process: 

Resource contributed by: Catherine Suttle
Affiliation: City University, London
Notes: Please contact me if you would like more information about this resource.
Date uploaded:  19/10/2013
Latest review:  19/10/2013
Reviewed by:  
Next review due:  December 2014


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