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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is pleased to announce the launch of RANZCO Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Management Guidelines. The guidelines provide an evidence based resource for optometrists, GPs and other health care professionals that outlines referral and treatment best practice for managing the care of patients with, or suspected of having, AMD. AMD is one of the biggest causes of vision loss and blindness in New Zealand, but with early diagnosis and effective treatment and management, vision loss may be halted.
The need for these guidelines was recommended following the recent eye care waiting list backlog affecting DHBs across the country.
RANZCO Fellow Dr Dianne Sharp led the development of the New Zealand specific guidelines through consultation with AMD sub-speciality groups. New Zealand based RANZCO ophthalmologists and several eye healthcare groups also reviewed the draft ensuring the guidelines were practical, effective and efficient. The end result is an invaluable best practice resource, that will enable planning and resourcing in District Health Board (DHB) eye departments for these common and increasingly prevalent eye conditions. These guidelines are a part of a series of eye care referral and management guidelines that RANZCO is developing, initially for AMD, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, to support best practice across Australia and New Zealand.
The RANZCO AMD Management Guidelines being launched today have been specifically developed for the New Zealand health system and to meet the needs of DHBs, keeping in mind their specific problems such as the current backlogs. Following the successful launch of RANZCO Referral Pathways in Australia last year, RANZCO is making the RANZCO AMD Guidelines available to all optometrists and GPs across New Zealand.
“RANZCO is committed to working collaboratively with optometrists, GPs and other health care professionals to ensure the most effective and efficient patient care and to improve health outcomes for people across Australia and New Zealand,” explained RANZCO President Associate Professor Mark Daniell. “The AMD Guidelines have been developed with input from both ophthalmologists and optometrists and aim to provide a clear guide for referring patients to ophthalmologists. The guidelines are being made available to all optometrists and GPs and we are eager to keep receiving feedback from those who use the guidelines so that we can continue to build on and improve the management guidelines.”
“The guidelines are designed to help improve collaboration between ophthalmologists, eyecare professionals and DHBs to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients. New Zealand has specific requirements that were considered in the creation of these guidelines, resulting in a clear pathway for GPs and eye care professionals when they see patients who have potential AMD,” says Dr Brian Kent-Smith, New Zealand Branch Chair.
These guidelines do not favour, and are not dependent upon, any particular practice referral system or methodology. They simply provide a resource which lays out a suggested referral or management pathway if certain signs and or symptoms are identified. The aim is to ensure patients receive the best care possible, in the most appropriate timeframe and from the appropriate health care provider.