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Ophthalmology vs Optometry


Guest moo

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One of my friends just graduated from optometry school at Waterloo. While talking to her, she mentioned being able to prescribe "opthalmologic drugs" in several provinces. I did some research and found that the official position of the Canadian Opthalmological Society is:

 

 

Policy Statements and Guidelines

 

 

Use of Ophthalmic Drugs by Nonphysicians

 

 

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society believes that it is not in the best interests of the public to have ophthalmic drugs administered except on the order of a physician.

 

Ophthalmic drugs, once placed in the eye, are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Like other drugs, they often have side effects on the brain, heart, blood vessels, lungs, liver, kidneys or other body systems. Only physicians have the knowledge of these different organs required to safely use such drugs. When an undesirable reaction to a drug occurs, appropriate treatment to combat the reaction may be required, at times on an emergency or lifesaving basis. Only physicians possess the knowledge and training needed to institute such treatment. The safe use of ophthalmic therapeutic drugs requires the ability to diagnose eye disease. The use of such a drug without the correct diagnosis can lead to severe damage to vision. Only physicians are adequately trained to diagnose eye disease.

 

Because of these potential dangers to the vision, health or life of the patient, the Society strongly opposes any legislation that would permit the administration of ophthalmic drugs on the order of people other than physicians.

 

 

For any aspiring opthalmologists out there and anyone with any knowledge on the subject, what do you think about this? I don't know what kind of training optometrists go through but I suspect that they do not rotate through the different medical specialties. I read in some provinces that they are allowed to prescribe some antibiotics and NSAIDs as well. Thoughts?

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Guest everyoneloveschem

I think that an optometrist having a limited set of drugs they are allowed to prescribe could be a good thing, much like a nurse practioner. A GP will have some (but how much really?) knowledge of eyes and prescriptions relating to them. An ophtho will have a huge body of knowledge and the medicine to go with it. An optometrist will have knowledge in between: more knowledge of the eye than a GP (at least I would hope so) but less drug/whole body knowledge than an ophtho. It can be very difficult to get into an ophtho, so why not have optos to fill in that gap?

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Guest CaesarCornelius

Hey Moo,

 

As far as I know optometrists in NS can't prescribe drugs. But I think that they should be able to have access to some at least. There are WAY more patients than there are optometrists/ophthalmologists, so there shouldn't be any turf issues.

 

I heard that in the US there is a controversy now where in some areas optometrists are performing laser eye surgery. I think the ophthalmologists aren't too happy about that..:)

 

 

CC

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Laser eye surgery? That's a new one. I hope that doesn't ever happen in Canada, or the US for that matter. I have zero interest in opthalmology but I think they should fight for their turf. After all they did undergo 4 years of med school and 5 years of residency. NOt to mention that surgery involves so much more than performing the surgery. You have to know how to take care of complications, pre-op, post-op care, etc. I just don't think an optometrist is trained well enough to provide that sort of a service. It's kind of scary now, especially in BC, where the gov't no longer funds visits to the optometrists.

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Guest spitfireMkIX

This (at least the surgery part) has been argued rabidly from both sides in the SDN ophtalmology forum.

 

The ophtos make the point moo made, that surgery is more than the procedure. You have to know how to handle all the patient's other problems - and optometrists don't.

 

I can see (ha ha) optometrists being given very limited prescription powers - medicated eye drops and such. But, I don't think they know enough about drug interactions and adverse reactions.

 

I like my optometrist more than my GP, but when it comes to treating eye conditions beyond the basics, I'll go to my GP and if necessary an ophtalmologist.

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  • 10 months later...
Guest mesoderm
I like my optometrist more than my GP, but when it comes to treating eye conditions beyond the basics, I'll go to my GP and if necessary an ophtalmologist.

 

Optometrists definitely know much MUCH more about the eye conditions than a GP does.

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Guest peachy

I think this is probably too big an issue to discuss here, but it doesn't make sense to me to just dismiss optometrists as not having as much training as MD's. They do four years of optometry school following an undergraduate degree, which is exactly the same amount as dentists do. And dentists provide drugs. I have no idea whether they really know enough to prescribe drugs within the current framework of their training; but there's no reason why a 4-year optometry degree couldn't include whatever training is necessary to do so.

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Guest marbledust

It's always easy for people in medicine to slag optometrists or question their training/abilities. It's not like they are getting a dime-store diploma. The OD takes four years to complete and, surprise, they do a fair amount of anatomy and physiology. Why don't we hear people in medicine complaining about dentists perscribing? DDS and DMD are "only" 4 year degrees as well.

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