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.