Essentially, a therapeutically-endorsed optometrist is an optometrist who holds additional qualifications and endorsements to prescribe scheduled medicines for the treatment of eye conditions and diseases.
A therapeutic optometrist has undertaken at least one additional year of training and study, specifically in the diagnosis and management of eye diseases, in microbiology, pathology, ocular pharmacology, and in the treatment of eye conditions with Schedule 4 prescription-only medicines. They are also required to stay up-to-date with the latest in medical treatments in eye care with mandatory therapeutics-specific continuing education (CPD). This ensures that patients receive the best possible care and treatment for their eye health conditions.
Ocular therapeutics has been part of an optometrist's university training since the mid-2000s, and currently about 6 out of 10 optometrists in Victoria are therapeutically-endorsed. The previous generations of optometrists are able to upgrade their qualifications to become endorsed in ocular therapeutics by undertaking further postgraduate study and training, if they wish to do so.
Common red eye conditions such as this can be readily diagnosed and treated by our therapeutically-endorsed optometrist.
This child's corneal abrasion, after being accidentally scratched in the eye, was promptly and successfully treated at this clinic.
Can a therapeutic optometrist do regular eye tests?
Yes, of course. A therapeutic optometrist can do all the things that a regular optometrist does, plus a lot more.
What can a therapeutic optometrist do that a regular optometrist cannot?
All optometrists can perform routine eye tests for glasses and contact lenses and general eye health examinations.
A regular optometrist can recommend non-prescription, over-the-counter eye drops for minor conditions such as dry eye, but only a therapeutic optometrist can prescribe Schedule 4 prescription-only medicines — more potent and targeted — to treat more serious eye conditions. The following are some of the common eye conditions that a therapeutic optometrist can diagnose and initiate treatment for:
Bacterial conjunctivitis - 'pink eye'
Viral eye infections including eye 'cold sores'
Contact lens-related red eye
Corneal abrasion and ulcers
Moderate and severe dry eye syndrome
Severe or infected blepharitis - crusty eyelids
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)
Eye inflammation including uveitis/iritis
Eye allergies including allergic conjunctivitis
Remove corneal foreign bodies
Glaucoma (in co-management with an ophthalmologist)
Treat children with amblyopia (lazy eye) with eye drops
Control short-sightedness in children with eye drops
Current list of Schedule 4 topical medicines that a therapeutically-endorsed optometrist can administer and prescribe. Source: Optometry Board of Australia
Can a therapeutic optometrist provide better care?
If you have an eye condition that requires medical treatment in the form of prescription eye drops, a therapeutically-endorsed optometrist is able to promptly attend to your condition and prescribe you with the required treatment, unlike a regular optometrist who may be able to assess the condition but may need to refer you to another practitioner (eg. a GP or an ophthalmologist) in order to have the treatment prescribed, potentially delaying the treatment process.
A therapeutic optometrist also has had more advanced training in eye diseases and their management. Contact lens wearers, who have a higher risk of acute red eyes and infections, and patients with a known risk of recurrent eye inflammation (iritis) or viral infection are in good hands under the primary care of a therapeutically-endorsed optometrist. While many patients think of GPs first when they have a sore eye, in many cases a GP may not have the equipment to examine the eye in close detail. Our optometrist routinely receives referrals from local GPs to examine patients with urgent eye concerns.
How to find out if an optometrist is therapeutically endorsed?