A recent study conducted in a British eye hospital found that optometrists were as competent as ophthalmologists in treating patients in an emergency room setting.

The study, published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, evaluated optometrists ability to identify and manage patients with ocular diseases in the Accident and Emergency Department at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Over a six-month period, 150 patients were assessed initially by one of two senior optometrists and by a consulting ophthalmologist. The O.D. and the consultant then made independent management plans for each patient.

The study found that the O.D. and the M.D. very frequently agreed on the primary diagnosis (89.3% agreement) and on the management outcomes (79.3% agreement). The study also reported that optometrists did not misdiagnose any sight-threatening conditions.

Hau S, Ehrlich D, Binstead K, Verma S. An evaluation of optometrists ability to correctly identify and manage patients with ocular disease in the accident and emergency department of an eye hospital. Br J Ophthalmol 2006 Oct 31; [Epub ahead of print].

Vol. No: 143:12Issue: 12/15/2006