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Saturday / June 15.
HomeminewsGlaucoma Management: the Debate Continues

Glaucoma Management: the Debate Continues

The Royal College of Australian and New Zealand Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is continuing its protest against the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA)’s decision to allow some optometrists the right to treat glaucoma.

In late March, the OBA released revised Guidelines that enable optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines to prescribe topical anti-glaucoma medicines for patients diagnosed with chronic glaucoma, or who are at high risk of developing the disease.

In response, RANZCO has called on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to retract this decision, which it believes will put patients at risk.RANZCO President and glaucoma specialist Dr. Stephen Best said, “with glaucoma and other eye diseases, collaboration is key. Ophthalmologists and optometrists should be working together, with ophthalmologists overseeing a patient’s treatment; this is in the best interests of the Australian public.”

He said diagnosis and management of glaucoma can often be tricky because the rate of progression is highly variable and difficult to predict, patient medication needs can change over time and on occasion other conditions can co-exist with the eye disease. Additionally, he said, glaucoma “may mask some underlying and potentially life-threatening illness that requires completely different and often urgent intervention”.

…diagnosis and management of glaucoma can often be tricky because the rate of progression is highly variable and difficult to predict…

The Chair of the Optometry Board of Australia Mr. Colin Waldron said optometrists’ professional expertise has changed over time and as a result, glaucoma management is within a reasonable scope of practice for those with the appropriate training.

“The education and training of optometrists has changed significantly over the past decade to include core prescribing competencies. The competency standards address differential diagnosis and treatment options including when not to prescribe and when to refer. Glaucoma management in collaboration with patients’ other health care practitioners is at the centre of this training,” said Mr. Waldron.

“These revised Guidelines allow optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines to practice to the full scope of their training, which means that more people will be able to access glaucoma treatment and on-going care.”

He said the revised Guidelines were an important step in increasing access to quality eye health care, particularly in areas where access to specialist care is an issue due to geographic location and/or social disadvantage.