The Glaucoma Collaborative Care (GCC) clinic, delivered by The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (Eye and Ear) and the Australian College of Optometry (ACO), is celebrating its 200th clinic this World Glaucoma Week (12-18 March).
The clinic was initiated by the Eye and Ear in response to rising glaucoma levels and aims to alleviate pressure on in-demand public health ophthalmologists and ensure appropriate care for patients. Originally serving as a pilot project between 2016-2017, the clinic was based on RANZCO’s new model of collaborative glaucoma care guidelines.
The clinic provides diagnostic and ophthalmic review for low risk and glaucoma suspect patients from the Eye and Ear. The program has been developed for patient-centred, cost effective care. Its primary focus is on facilitating community-based follow-up when appropriate, while improving access to specialist hospital-based care for patients with diagnosed glaucoma who are at higher risk of disease progression.
Running fortnightly from the ACO’s Carlton clinic, the GCC clinic’s is said to be an example of how a team-based approach involving ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists is integral to supporting positive eyecare outcomes.
Dr Catherine Green, head of the glaucoma clinic at the Eye and Ear, has advocated for the collaborative clinic since the start and believes its progressive approach to care has made a difference to glaucoma patients.
“This shared care management of glaucoma patients has resulted in a more streamlined approach in the diagnosis and treatment of suitable patients,” she said.
The increasing prevalence of glaucoma is said to pose a major threat to the health and well-being of the community, as well as pressure on the public health service. Glaucoma Australia estimates 50% of the more than 300,000 Australians projected to have the condition are unaware they have it, risking significant vision loss.
Ms Janelle Scully, the ACO’s Ocular Disease Services lead optometrist, said the demand for public glaucoma services has been steadily rising due to Australia’s ageing population and increasing cost of living pressures.
“The collaborative clinic is uniquely positioned to offer patients access to suitable care while also easing the demand on Eye and Ear’s ophthalmology services. ACO Carlton is well-resourced to host the clinic and participate in the collaborative model of care which is so successfully demonstrated by this program,” she said.
During the past 20 years, the Eye and Ear has reported a 29% increase in surgical patients with glaucoma and estimates that across Australia glaucoma will increase from 208,000 in 2005 to 379,000 in 2025 due in part to the identified aging population nationally.
“It’s a significant achievement to have reached our 200th clinic together and to be celebrating it during World Glaucoma Week,” prominent ophthalmologist Associate Professor George Kong said.
“This collaboration between the Eye and Ear and Australian College of Optometry has made a difference to many patients by providing them with timely diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care of their glaucoma. It allows many patients to be safely managed in the community until further intervention is needed.”