Glaucoma treatment in Australia: changing patterns of therapy 1994-2003

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2004 Dec;32(6):590-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2004.00908.x.


Aim: To document the change in pattern of glaucoma treatment in Australia over the decade 1994-2003.

Methods: Observational study: retrospective data audit.

Results: The total number of prescriptions for glaucoma items has increased in this time period from 1.9 million to 3.3 million, with a cost increase to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) of in excess of 50m dollars. The largest increase has been in the class of prostaglandin analogues, which now comprise 49% of all glaucoma topical therapy prescriptions. Rates of laser trabeculoplasty and trabeculectomy surgery have fallen by 60% and 58%, respectively. Rates for secondary procedures such as repeat trabeculectomy, drainage implant devices and cycloablation have remained stable, although with some variation between Australian states.

Conclusions: The introduction of multiple new medications has resulted in a decline in the amount of glaucoma surgery and laser trabeculoplasty performed. There has been an associated increase in the total number of glaucoma prescription items dispensed, and a large increase in the cost to the PBS of this change. Outcome measures of the benefit of these changes are lacking.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Australia
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Glaucoma / therapy*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health, Reimbursement / trends
  • Insurance, Physician Services / economics
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / trends*
  • State Medicine / trends


  • Antihypertensive Agents