Optometrists role in diagnosing glaucoma is growing

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Although optometrists are diagnosing glaucoma more often, they play a smaller part when it comes to initiating glaucoma treatment, according to a study.

Of the 401,560 patients receiving initial glaucoma care in Ontario, Canada from 2007 to 2018, 303,440 were seen by ophthalmologists and 98,120 by optometrists. For both ophthalmologists and optometrists, the population rates of glaucoma suspect diagnosis increased over the study period.

After 2011, the initiation rate of glaucoma therapy increased annually among optometrists but remained stable among ophthalmologists. By 2018, ophthalmologists were most responsible for

initiating therapy (88%) and first diagnosing glaucoma suspect (59%) in patients.

Initiation of therapy per provider was lower among optometrists than among ophthalmologists in the final year of the study (median: 2/provider; interquartile range: 1 to 3 vs median: 26.5/provider, interquartile range: 10 to 53).

Patients with increased age, higher ocular or systemic comorbidity, and from an urban setting were more likely to receive care from an ophthalmologist over an optometrist.

Quinn MP; Johnson D; Whitehead M, et al. Distribution and predictors of initial glaucoma care among ophthalmologists and optometrists: A population-based study. J Glaucoma. 2021;30(6): e300-e304 doi: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001792

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