By Rhiannon Riches
About 67 per cent of optometrists under 30 years of age support the future use of oral medications for the profession.
Half of the optometrists who responded to a survey about the future of the profession believe they should be able to prescribe oral therapeutic medication within the next 20 years.
Optometry Australia conducted the survey in October 2015 on scope of practice for therapeutically and non-therapeutically endorsed optometrists practising in Australia.
Of the 606 respondents, 587 were in clinical practice and 254 were therapeutically endorsed.
Survey results indicated some support for using laser treatment in the future: 35 per cent suggested optometrists should be able to use laser for prophylactic iridotomy, and 45 per cent suggested optometrists should be able to use YASG laser for posterior capsulotomy.
The majority of respondents did not believe that optometrists should be permitted within 20 years to administer injections.
The survey asked optometrists to indicate which procedures they delegated, in part or in whole, to a non-optometric staff member.
Three-quarters of optometrists surveyed never delegate the task of obtaining aspects of a patient’s case history.
A small proportion of respondents delegated non-contact tonometry. Nearly 12 per cent indicated the question was not applicable, suggesting they don’t use a non-contact tonometer.
Close to 50 per cent never delegated autorefraction, but 30 per cent indicated they always, often or sometimes delegate this task. Other delegated tasks included:
- Visual field testing: 12 per cent of respondents always delegate this test, 18 per cent do most of the time, and 23 per cent sometimes do.
- Training of contact lens insertion and removal: nine per cent of respondents always delegate this task, 12 per cent do most of the time, and 20 per cent sometimes do.
- Retinal photography: 55 per cent of respondents never delegate retinal photography, over 20 per cent do most of the time or always, and close to 20 per cent sometimes do.
A comprehensive analysis of the survey focusing on practitioner confidence in specific optometric techniques, diagnosis and management of a broad range of eye conditions, and in therapeutic prescribing, is being finalised for journal submission.