Optometrists lack the training to independently diagnose and treat glaucoma without putting patients at risk. Almost 60% of respondents to a poll in Australian Doctor shared this concern.

It followed the unilateral decision by the Optometry Board of Australia to allow endorsed optometrists to initiate therapeutic management for patients with chronic glaucoma.

The poll revealed 59% were worried the risks of "mismanagement and misdiagnoses" by optometrists were "potentially serious". 22% said patients would not be at risk provided doctors were informed of patients' ongoing treatments. Another 19% said widening access to treatments, given a claimed shortage of ophthalmologists, outweighed possible dangers to patients.

OBA says "endorsed optometrists" — making up about 35% of the profession — are trained in ocular therapeutics.

Glaucoma Australia has warned "independent and ongoing management" by an optometrist alone increases the "likelihood of missing disease progression on the one hand or to over-treat glaucoma on the other".

"The best option from a patient perspective is the current system, where optometry is the logical first port of call for the Australian community to be comprehensively assessed for signs and symptoms of glaucoma, with an ophthalmologist confirming that diagnosis and then discussing and initiating treatment."

Acknowledgement: Australian Doctor