Australian optometric and ophthalmologic referral pathways for people with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma

Khalid F. Jamous, Isabelle Jalbert, Michael Kalloniatis, Mei Ying Boon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: This study investigated the referral pathways offered to patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR) or glaucoma (GL) by ophthalmologists and optometrists. Methods: Australian ophthalmologists and optometrists were surveyed regarding referral decisions to other eye-care specialists (inter- or intra-professional), general medical practitioners (GPs), low vision rehabilitation (LVR) and support services. Thematic analysis and concept mapping were applied to highlight current and ideal referral pathways. Results: The survey was completed by 155 optometrists and 50 ophthalmologists and deemed representative of their respective professions in Australia. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the participating optometrists (97 to 99 per cent) referred to ophthalmologists regardless of the underlying condition. Clear differences (Chi-square: p<0.05) were observed in the referral patterns of optometrists and ophthalmologists to GPs and support services. General medical practitioner services were almost exclusively used for patients with DR, while AMD triggered a significantly higher referral rate to low vision rehabilitation and support services than the other two disorders. Conclusion: While ophthalmologists predominantly referred patients with AMD, DR or GL to low vision rehabilitation services, optometrists' referrals were highly skewed toward ophthalmology. Referrals to other supporting services by the two groups were not greatly used. The perceived referral pathways by the two eye-care professionals suggested a unidirectional route, potentially highlighting the need for a more collaborative approach that facilitates optimal use of eye health care and allied services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-255
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Volume97
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

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