Targeting modifiable risk factors in age-related macular degeneration in optometric practice in Sweden
1School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden; 2School of Health Sciences, City, University of London, London, UK
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which ophthalmologists and optometrists in Sweden recommend the use of nutritional supplements, changes in diet, or smoking cessation to patients who are at risk of or with signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In addition, this study also examined how these practitioners rate the strength of evidence for nutritional supplements in AMD management and which sources of information they consult to determine supplement recommendations for the prevention or treatment of AMD.
Methods: This study implemented a cross-sectional design using data from a questionnaire. All Swedish optometrists and ophthalmologists who were registered in the membership databases of their respective professional organizations were invited to participate. The questionnaire contained 18 forced choice questions and one free text question and was organized into the following four sections: use of nutritional supplements, dietary advice, smoking and eye diseases, and strength of evidence and the sources of information regarding nutritional supplement interventions.
Results: The response rate was 40.3% for optometrists and 5% for ophthalmologists. Optometrists were more likely than ophthalmologists to recommend nutritional supplements in AMD and provided significantly more advice about diet than did the ophthalmologists for both patients at risk for AMD and those with established disease. The ophthalmologists were more likely than the optometrists to rely on the findings from the age-related eye disease studies of AMD regarding treatment with and selection of supplements and to recommend smoking cessation.
Conclusion: Common evidence-based strategies for AMD management among eye care professionals would presumably be beneficial for AMD patients. Targeted education and implementation strategies may be needed.
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration, diet, smoking, nutritional supplements
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