Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist May 2013 Contents 40 Australian Pharmacist May 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Keeping an eye on good
A pharmacist's work requires excellent
vision and may involve a considerable level
of eye strain. Optometrists Association
Australia (Victoria) Policy and Member
Services Manager Kirsty Machon explains
why it is important for pharmacists to
take the time to get their eyes tested
regularly to prevent permanent and serious
Perhaps this has happened to you.
Looking over a script for a patient, you
notice that your capacity to read the
request isn't quite what it used to be.
Perhaps the numbers are blurring a
little and you are finding them harder to
discern; the fine print now strikes you as
very fine indeed. You may have noticed
some deterioration for a while, or maybe
you are conscious of this change for the
very first time.
'I should go and see someone,' you think.
'I might need a new script for my glasses'.
Then you get understandably caught up
in the round of your busy life, balancing
clients, business, family, exercise,
A while ago, at a conference, an
optometrist colleague was undertaking
checks of intraocular pressures (IOPs) for
general practitioners. A passing delegate
agreed to step up to the tonometer.
To the optometrist's surprise, the IOP
was over 30. The optometrist expressed
surprise and concern at this high reading,
which, he explained, indicates the very
real possibility of undiagnosed glaucoma
causing damage to the eye. The delegate
mentioned he had had his pressures
tested by his optometrist some months
before, and they had been 26. He had
been advised at the time that this was
an elevated reading, suggesting that
further investigation or referral to
an ophthalmologist was warranted.
However, with no symptoms or changes
to his vision, the he had not made this
It's easy to overlook the importance of
regular eye examinations, particularly
because common eye symptoms can be
easily dismissed as age-related changes
needing nothing more than new glasses.
Perhaps you sell ready-made glasses
for this purpose, or even have your own
pair. But did you know that 75% of vision
loss and blindness is preventable? Or
that 80% of vision loss and blindness is
caused by five conditions, all of which
increase in prevalence every decade
over the age of 40, and some of which
(such as glaucoma) may not manifest
symptoms until damage has already
occurred? As a result, it is estimated that
50% of glaucoma remains undiagnosed.
Everyone with a Medicare card is
entitled to a comprehensive eye exam
from an optometrist every 24 months.
If you are over 40, whether or not you
currently wear glasses, you should
take advantage of this. A referral is
not needed to see an optometrist. In
Victoria, 52% of optometrists, including
all new graduates, hold endorsement to
prescribe topical schedule 4 medicines
for eye conditions including glaucoma,
acute ocular infections and ocular
allergies. A comprehensive exam from
your optometrist can make use of a wide
range of technologies for detecting,
diagnosing and monitoring eye
conditions. These include:
Slit lamp A biomicroscope for
examining the anterior eye under high
Tonometer For measuring intraocular
Fundus (retinal) camera To take photos
of the internal posterior eye, showing the
retina, optic disc, arteries and veins.
Visual fields analyser Used to assess and
manage glaucoma, as well as in stroke, or
in other neurological conditions.
Gonioscope This lens with prisms
enables the optometrist to get a more
complex and complete view of the
inside of the eye, and the angle of the
Ocular Coherance Tomography (OCT)
Optometrists may also digitally image the
optic nerve in 3D (OCT).
As with many other health problems,
a family history of eye disease can be
a significant risk factor. If Mum has
developed AMD or your brother has been
diagnosed with glaucoma, make sure
you mention this. An optometrist is also
able to triage ocular emergencies, such as
eye injuries or sudden loss of vision, and
ensure referral as indicated. Optometrists
can refer direct to ophthalmologists,
often working in a team to provide
ongoing care. If you haven't had your eyes
checked for a while, don't just squint at
the script. Good vision is important to
your professional life. Your optometrist
can help you, and your clients, to protect
the health of your eyes, when it matters
most: before any sight-threatening
damage is done.
'If you haven't had
your eyes checked
for a while, don't
just squint at the
script. Good vision
is important to your
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