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I see an optometrist for my glaucoma. Is this OK? He seems competent, but I'm not sure if he’s qualified for this condition.
Optometrists are now licensed in most states to prescribe medications for glaucoma. This was not always true. However, glaucoma treatment is largely a matter of judgment and experience. Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.s) spend at least three years of post-graduate (after medical school) training at medical centers specializing in ophthalmology care, research, and teaching. They are exposed on a daily basis to glaucoma and other ocular problems, as these tend to be tertiary care centers to which other doctors refer their difficult cases.
Ophthalmologists are also skilled at performing laser treatments and surgeries for glaucoma, and know when they are indicated or should be considered as alternatives to drops and pills.
Many optometrists are capable of handling uncomplicated and routine cases of glaucoma. As professionals, they should be willing to hear your concerns, explain their training, and tell you to whom they would refer you if you needed something beyond their scope of practice.
As a licensed MD, I am legally able to treat the brain tumors, diabetes, hypertension, myasthenia gravis, and other medical disorders which I diagnose in my patients, but I refer them to appropriate specialists, as it is in the best interest of the patient.
Answered by: Richard G. Shugarman, MD
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Answered: Apr 30, 2013
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