Purpose: The American Optometric Association Optometric Clinical Practice Guidelines encourages a dilated fundus examination as part of a routine comprehensive vision examination. Binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy is a method of evaluating the posterior and peripheral fundus that has been introduced in recent years as optometric standard of care. The purpose of this survey was to compare the utilization of binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy between two cohorts of optometrists, one who received formal education on the technique and one who did not.
Method: A survey was mailed to 345 optometrists within the Pacific University College of Optometry classes of 1973-75 and 1993-95. The survey provided data regarding practice setting, formal education in binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy, and attitudes regarding confidence level and perceived efficacy of the procedure. Furthermore, optometrists were asked which instrument they utilized most in different patient encounters.
Results: A 50% response rate was achieved from the mailing. Respondent practice setting was predominately private practice. Comparing the two cohorts of optometrists, statistically significant variance was revealed in practice setting, confidence levels in utilization of the procedure, total binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy procedures performed, and instrument utilization for particular patient encounters. When only private practice optometrists were compared in terms of perceived confidence level in the binocular direct ophthalmoscopy procedure, statistically significant variance still existed.
Conclusion: Our statistically significant data revealed that the training an optometrist obtains while in school seems to influence the way he practices optometry. The confidence in the use of a particular instrument a doctor acquires through his formal education does not appear to be exceeded by the confidence he receives through continuing education. In this light, it is essential that formal optometric education include training in techniques and procedures that are foreseen to become standard of care.
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