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16 January 2007

Eye Fight

There are two types of professionals who treat eye problems and we'll find out about both.


BELINDA ZORDAN: It was business as usual at Simon Hurwood's Brisbane practice. But according to the Optometrists' Association, that's anything but good news.

For five years now the group has been campaigning for optometrists in Queensland to be given the right to prescribe therapeutic eye drops.

SIMON HURWOOD, OPTOMETRIST: The sort of conditions we were going to be able to treat were things like glaucoma, which is where the pressure in the eye increases and that can cause blindness if not treated properly. We're talking about things like inflammatory conditions that cause the eyes to get very red and sore.

BELINDA ZORDAN: Optometrists have been fighting for the right to prescribe eye drops because they say they're on the front line, and would help take the pressure off waiting lists. In March, they thought they'd won that fight when the state government promised to amend the Drugs and Poisons Regulations to allow optometrists to administer eye medication. But last month the health minister changed his mind.

GREG JOHNSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OPTOMETRISTS ASSOCIATION AUSTRALIA: Well it's devastating, it just seems senseless that someone should have to wait in a queue at a public hospital when a properly trained optometrist can provide that care immediately.

BELINDA ZORDAN: Ophthalmologists like Doctor Peter Cranstoun don't regret their united stand, insisting a board made up of independent medical experts should decide the drugs optometrists can safely use.

He has serious reservations about the idea of letting optometrists who have not been to medical school prescribe drugs.

DR PETER CRANSTOUN, OPTOMOLOGIST: We feel in reality it's only fair that with this potential for problems to occur that there should be some advisory board to monitor and regulate things.

DR PETER CRANSTOUN: You would have to understand that it was a very hard decision to make, but our main concern was and still remains public safety and we felt too much was being given too quickly.

BELINDA ZORDAN: The Optometrists' Association says the government's back flip will do far more harm than good. They argue Queenslanders would have to wait for months on public waiting lists for procedures they could perform in minutes if the new board restricts their access to medication.

GREG JOHNSON: What we see here is a health profession that is prepared to go out and make a difference in the community, and to suggest in any way that optometrists are going to cause mischief or mayhem to people's eyes is just ridiculous.

GORDON NUTTALL: We've talked about turf warfare and this is exactly what this is. I mean I would rather see ophthalmologists focusing on the real serious problems around eyes where as the prescription of drugs, with the proper training could be done by optometrists.

BELINDA ZORDAN: Concerns have also been raised that those living in regional areas will miss out on important medical treatment.

SIMON HURWOOD: Many country areas don't have any ophthalmologists, public or private, and at the moment they have to drive many many kilometres or they just don't get the eye care at all.

BELINDA ZORDAN: Ophthalmologists say they're looking at addressing the problem, but until something is done rural patients may have to rely on general practitioners for serious eye problems.


story notes

 business as usual
 
When we say that it’s business as usual, we mean that things continue as normal, often despite some trouble.
 
Example: It's business as usual at the markets, despite the fire there last night.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 association
 
An association is a formal organisation of groups or people.

 campaigning
 
To campaign means to carry out a set of actions with a certain aim. The group has been ‘campaigning’, planning actions and trying to convince people of their plan.

 optometrists
 
An optometrist is someone who tests people’s vision and also prescribes glasses to correct their vision.

 prescribe
 
To prescribe means to suggest a type of treatment a patient should have.
 
The doctor writes out a prescription.

 therapeutic
 
If something is therapeutic, it makes someone feel happier and healthier. It comes from the word ‘therapy’ which refers to a treatment that makes a person healthier.
 
Example: A hot bath is very therapeutic.

 glaucoma
 
He describes glaucoma as a disease where the pressure in the eye builds up.

 inflammatory
 
Inflammatory means causing or related to swelling in the body.

 on the front line
 
The front line is the most important place, or where things are happening.
 
Example: This new research is right on the front line of its field.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 won
 
Here won is the past participle of the irregular verb win. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: win

 ophthalmologists
 
An ophthalmologist is a doctor who treats eye diseases.

 insisting
 
To insist means to state or demand forcefully.

 reservations
 
Reservations are doubts. If you have reservations about something you don’t completely agree with it.

 given
 
Given is the past participle of the irregular verb give. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: give

 back flip
 
When someone changes what they said they they were going to do, we call it a back flip and even use it as a verb.
 
Example: He's back flipped on his promise to stop smoking.
 
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 mischief
 
Mischief is trouble.

 mayhem
 
Mayhem is a situation in which there is little order or control.