Condition category
Eye Diseases
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status

Plain English Summary

Not provided at time of registration

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Liam Smeeth


Contact details

Epidemiology Unit
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7636 8636

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title


Study hypothesis

To determine the effectiveness of mass screening for visual impairment in unselected elderly people (aged 75 and over) in a community setting as part of a multidimensional screening programme.
To assess barriers to treatment of visual impairment among elderly people.

Ethics approval

Not provided at time of registration

Study design

Randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting

Not specified

Trial type

Not Specified

Patient information sheet


Primary care


In the MRC Elderly Screening Study, practices were randomly allocated as follows:
1. Brief assessment by questionnaire followed by a detailed assessment, including visual acuity, only if indicated (the control group for this study) - the targeted screening group
2. Brief assessment by questionnaire followed by a detailed assessment including visual acuity for all patients (the intervention group for this study) - the universal screening group.

In the brief assessment, as one of the 35 questions about their health, participants were asked the following question on vision: 'Do you have difficulty seeing newsprint, even if you are wearing glasses?'
In arm A, criteria for triggering to the detailed assessment were three or more problems identified from the brief assessment or any one of four 'serious' symptoms (unexpected weight loss, frequent falls in previous month, vomiting blood, coughing blood).
In arm B all participants had a detailed assessment. In the detailed assessment, the participants' distance visual acuity was measured using a logarithm of the minimum
angle of resolution (logMAR) chart. Anyone with a pinhole corrected acuity of 0.5 or more (equivalent to Snellen acuity less than 6/18) was referred to an ophthalmologist. If the visual impairment was corrected by use of a pinhole, the participant was referred to an optometrist for refractive error correction.

The patient assessments described above began in 1995 and were completed at the end of 1998. All participants are being followed up for mortality and hospital admissions but are not being re-examined as part of the MRC Elderly Screening Trial. We are proposing to conduct a nested trial within the MRC trial, specifically to examine the effectiveness of the visual acuity screening component of the study.

Intervention type



Not Specified

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

These were changed prior to outcome data collection following the pilot study and with the agreement of the trial steering committee. The Primary outcomes are now:
1. Visual acuity less then 6/18 in either eye.
2. Visual function: the composite score on the national eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire 25 Version.

Secondary outcome measures

Not provided at time of registration

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

The trial is being conducted in practices involved in the MRC Trial of Assessment and Management of Elderly People in the Community (The Elderly Screening Trial), who were recruited through the MRCGP framework. The patient population included all patients aged 75 years and over registered with study practices at the start of the main trial (1995-1997). We propose to re-examine 2000 participants from 20 practices within the main trial (100 in each practice). We will randomly select 10 practices from the two arms of the main trial. Within each practice, we will then randomly sample 150 people from the list of people who were originally eligible for inclusion in the main Elderly Screening Trial. We will ascertain those participants who have died or moved away. The remaining participants will be invited to an assessment.

Participant type


Age group



Not Specified

Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

Anyone in long-term care or with terminal disease.

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Epidemiology Unit
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


Medical Research Council (MRC) (UK)

Sponsor details

20 Park Crescent
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7636 5422

Sponsor type

Research council



Funder type

Research council

Funder name

Medical Research Council (UK)

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

government organisation

Funding Body Subtype

National government


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

1. 2002 results in
2. 2004 results in

Publication citations

  1. Results

    Evans JR, Fletcher AE, Wormald RP, Ng ES, Stirling S, Smeeth L, Breeze E, Bulpitt CJ, Nunes M, Jones D, Tulloch A, Prevalence of visual impairment in people aged 75 years and older in Britain: results from the MRC trial of assessment and management of older people in the community., Br J Ophthalmol, 2002, 86, 7, 795-800.

  2. Results

    Evans JR, Fletcher AE, Wormald RP, , Causes of visual impairment in people aged 75 years and older in Britain: an add-on study to the MRC Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community., Br J Ophthalmol, 2004, 88, 3, 365-370.

Additional files

Editorial Notes