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Unique Australian clinic found to benefit glaucoma patients

14/03/2018By Matthew Woodley
An 18-month study into a collaborative Australian eyecare clinic, in which optometrists and ophthalmologists work together, has found the approach has had benefits for glaucoma patients.

The study, published recently in Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, included outcomes for more than 180 patients treated at the UNSW’s Centre for Eye Health. The collaborative approach sees optometrists refer patients with suspected glaucoma to the clinic, where specially trained optometrists carry out advanced testing and recommend a management program in collaboration with ophthalmologists.

“Although collaborative arrangements between ophthalmologists and optometrists for patients with glaucoma have existed in the past, our clinic was one of the first integrated clinics that allows in-house collaboration,” lead author of the study, Dr Barbara Zangerl from the UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, said.


“Results from the first 18 months of operation have justified the trust and vision needed to build this exceptional model with the two professions working side by side.”
Dr Barbara Zangerl, lead study author

“Results from the first 18 months of operation have justified the trust and vision needed to build this exceptional model with the two professions working side by side.”

The clinic was originally established as a collaborative effort between the Prince of Wales Hospital Ophthalmology Department and the Centre for Eye Health to relieve the pressure on public hospitals. The clinic was the first of its kind conceived in Australia and was implemented after regulatory bodies arrived at an agreed framework through guidelines provided by the Optometry Board of Australia and RANZCO.

“This new model of care we have established has great potential to help with the challenge to assess new, non-urgent outpatient referrals for glaucoma to public hospital ophthalmology within the four-month regulatory requirement,” study co-author and ophthalmologist Dr Michael Hennessy said.

On average, patients waited 43 days for an appointment. More than half of the patients (51%) were diagnosed with glaucoma, and 41% had suspected glaucoma requiring ongoing monitoring. A further 2% had a different optical neuropathy, and only 6% were found to have no eye disease.

So far, 20% of patients have chosen to transfer to the new clinic due to financial constraints, which has led those involved to believe it can service patients who are most in need.

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