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Clinic-based glaucoma care in the era of surgical subspecialization


Purpose — To evaluate the impact of surgeon practice profile on clinic-based glaucoma care.

Design — Population-based study of glaucoma care patterns in Ontario, Canada from 2000-2010.

Methods — Using comprehensive physician services data from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan database, ophthalmologists were divided into 5 surgical practice subgroups. The role of each subgroup in the provision of glaucoma care was evaluated. Consultations and office visits were used to assess nonsurgical care, while laser trabeculoplasty procedures were used to assess clinic-based procedural care.

Results — Between 2000 and 2010, the population rate of glaucoma consultations and follow-up visits provided by ophthalmologists who do not perform incisional glaucoma surgery increased at average annual rates of 1.6% (P < .0002) and 3.3% (P < .0001), respectively. In contrast, no significant growth in the rate of glaucoma consultations or follow-up visits provided by glaucoma surgeons was observed (0.8%/year [P = .2] for consultations; 0.2%/year [P = .6] for follow-up visits). Between 2000 and 2010, the rate of laser trabeculoplasty procedures provided by ophthalmologists who do not perform incisional glaucoma surgery increased 19.3% annually (P < .0001), while growth among glaucoma surgeons was more modest (annual growth of 9.2% [P = .0002]).

Conclusions — While subspecialization is a growing reality in most areas of medicine, we found that the provision of clinic-based glaucoma care remains dependent on ophthalmologists who do not perform incisional glaucoma surgery. With increasing focus on integrated care, these findings will have important implications for residency education programs and their accrediting bodies and will inform decisions of healthcare policymakers, hospitals, and academic departments.



Campbell RJ, Bell CM, Gill SS, Whitehead M, Campbell Ede L, Xu K, El-Defrawy SR. Am J Opthalmol. 2014; 157(3):631-9. Epub 2013 Dec 7.