Managing Glaucoma To Prevent Blindness

Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO talks about the impact of diagnosing glaucoma and preventing blindness.

Cara Moore: Hi everybody. Thanks for joining us here on Optometry TV. I’m Cara Moore joined now by Dr. Agustin Gonzalez. Thanks for being here.

Dr. Agustin Gonzalez: Thank you for the invitation. Glad to be here.

Cara Moore: We are talking about glaucoma and whether this is becoming really a public health crisis. And I guess you can ask that because the glaucoma population seems to be increasing. Is that right?

Dr. Agustin Gonzalez: So, yes, with the increased longevity in the American population and glaucoma, is not that glaucoma is increasing. It’s that the people with glaucoma, the pool of people with glaucoma has been increasing and this poses a phenomenal opportunity for optometry. When we think that ophthalmology residency, they have been pulled down a little bit the amount of ophthalmologists needed to be taking care of glaucoma has decreased a little bit and the population has actually increased. This situation provides a unique opportunity for optometry to be handling glaucoma patients. We know that glaucoma patients are under diagnosed or undiagnosed and we have a lot of data and public studies that point to that fact. We know that optic nerve evaluations are not being done correctly by both optometry and ophthalmology. And there’s a great opportunity for optometry to be able to create a big impact from a public health perspective in this disease. Normally by diagnosing early, being able to manage, but also because of the distribution of optometry in the nation. The fact that optometrists account for 85% of patient care in the United States for primary eye care, we are in a unique position to create a big impact on preventing blindness in the United States by addressing this one single issue.

Cara Moore: And so that’s really how you think it’s going to affect the future of optometry, is that right?

Dr. Agustin Gonzalez: Absolutely. Optometrists are uniquely positioned. Not only geographically but in the communities to be able to detect glaucoma, to be able to manage glaucoma. Most States allow optometrists to manage glaucoma right now. And that first intervention is critical in preventing blindness. So I think that glaucoma is going to be a public health crisis that our ophthalmology peers have been racing the alarm on this. How well is it that we’re positioned to be able to tackle this challenge depends on us. So I think that that’s crucial and driving that message is really important for the optometric community

Cara Moore: And then quickly. So then what’s your takeaway? What’s the, you know, for an optometrist or a practitioner watching this?

Dr. Agustin Gonzalez: I think that we have to develop better skills at detecting the undetected diagnosing the underdiagnosed or the undiagnosed glaucoma, number one. I think that we have to look at technology, you know, different light. Often times we have a lot of information but we don’t know what information to look for. So I think that creating a little bit more knowledge in the information that we gather is important. And lastly, I think that taking the message to our communities that people need to screen for glaucoma, especially if you have, you know, risk factors, family history, race, age, it’s important driving the message to prevent blindness. And that’s the opportunity that we’re faced with. And that’s an opportunity that we can embrace very quickly, very easily. We have a lot of the tools. We have a roadmap, all we need to do is follow it.

Cara Moore: Alright. Good advice there. Dr. Gonzales, thanks for being here.

Dr. Agustin Gonzalez: Thank you.

Cara Moore: Appreciate it. Thank you all for watching Optometry TV.

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