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Thursday / May 26.
HomeminewsShared Care Promising for Ocular Health

Shared Care Promising for Ocular Health

Shared care between optometrists and ophthalmologists can be “very successful” for patients with chronic eye diseases and reduce hospital waiting times.

Results of a trial involving 98 patients at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital were published in a recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

Traditionally eye disease patients are managed by an ophthalmologist, but waiting times are long. Optometrists, on the other hand, are more numerous and have greater geographical coverage.

In the trial, patients with stable age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma saw optometrists, with referral to ophthalmologists as needed.

Shared care between local optometrists and hospital-based ophthalmologists not only provides a solution to reducing hospital waiting times

Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia and Melbourne University, led by Professor Jill Keeffe, found that optometrists exceeded expectations, appropriately detecting and referring patients with additional previously undetected conditions.

“Shared care between local optometrists and hospital-based ophthalmologists not only provides a solution to reducing hospital waiting times but also offers an opportunity for these two key groups of eye care professionals to collaborate in providing localised care for the benefit of patients,” the authors wrote.

They also noted that shared care yielded substantial savings in travel time for participants.

David Lau from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital said the hospital was still considering whether shared care would be adopted on an ongoing basis.

Shared care adds a “layer of complexity”, relying heavily on strong working relationships between organisations, he said.

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