The purpose of this study was to document attitudes and practices of Australian optometrists in their management of diabetic retinopathy prior to the release of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Diabetic Retinopathy and at two time points following their release. A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a stratified random sample of 500 Australian optometrists at the three time points. The same sample was used for the first two surveys and a new random sample was drawn for the second follow-up survey. The response to the three questionnaires was 86%, 80% and 84%, respectively. More than 90% of optometrists reported receiving a copy of the guidelines and 82% reported receiving the supplementary Retinopathy Chart. Fifty-seven percent reported having read the guidelines at least once in entirety and 65% reported that they refer to the Retinopathy Chart at least monthly in their clinical practice. There was a significant decrease in the number of optometrists who reported that patient unwillingness to be dilated and their fear of precipitating angle closure glaucoma were moderate or major barriers to performing dilated ophthalmoscopy. Concomitantly, the percentage of optometrists who reported that they often or always perform dilated ophthalmoscopy on new patients with diabetes increased significantly from 74.5% (95% confidence limit = 70.2, 78.8) to 81.5% (95% confidence limit = 77.5, 85.5). There have been some significant changes in the self-reported management practices of optometrists in relation to diabetic retinopathy since the release of the NHMRC guidelines and Retinopathy Chart.
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Practice guidelines