Research Abstract


With advances in gene-based therapies for heritable retinal diseases, primary eye care clinicians should be informed on ocular genetics topics. This cross-sectional survey evaluated knowledge, attitudes, and concerns regarding genetic testing and gene therapy for retinal diseases among optometrists in Australia and New Zealand.

Design, setting, participants
  • Survey data included practitioner background, attitudes and practices towards genetic testing for monogenic inherited retinal disease (IRDs) and age-related macular degeneration, and knowledge of ocular genetics and gene therapy.
  • Responses were received from 516 optometrists between 1 April and 31 December 2022.
  • Key perceived barriers to accessing genetic testing were lack of clarity on referral pathways (81%), cost (65%), and lack of treatment options if a genetic cause is identified (50%).
  • Almost all respondents (98%) believed that ophthalmologists should initiate genetic testing for IRDs and fewer understood the role of genetic counsellors and clinical geneticists.

This study found that optometrists in Australia and New Zealand have a high level of interest in ocular genetics topics. However, knowledge gaps include referral pathways and awareness of genetic testing and gene therapy outcomes.

Addressing perceived barriers to access and promoting sharing of knowledge between interdisciplinary networks can set the foundation for genetic education agendas in primary eye care.