A new study from The University of Sydney and The Royal Veterinary College has found that lactation consultants who perform lactation services may need to be certified to perform retinal surgery in the future.
The study, published in the journal Optics & Vision, looked at 566 lactation professionals across Australia and found that between 10 and 17% had retinal surgeries performed on their eyes, which is an increase from just 3.5% in 2015.
Lactation consultant certifications are only currently required for surgeons to perform eye surgeries, but the new study suggests that the practice could eventually become a standard part of the vision and health professions training for both dentists and nurses.
“This new study raises serious questions about the future of the profession of lactation,” said lead author and researcher Dr. Peter Mokkonen.
“Lactation consultants may have to change their practice to accommodate retinal procedures, while others may need more training and certification to perform their own retinal operations.”
Lactational consultants currently only undergo eye surgeries for a small proportion of lactating women, but this study suggests there could be a shift in the practice.
It is possible that these women could benefit from retinal training to enable them to safely perform the surgeries they require.
While the study is limited in scope, it does raise serious questions as to whether lactation specialist certification is a good idea for the future as it could potentially cause unnecessary suffering.
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The authors of the study said that their study focused on lactation doctors in Australia, and that they were surprised by the significant increase in lactation certifications for retinal surgeons.
“There is evidence to suggest that many lactation specialists are trained to perform and interpret retinal ophthalmological procedures, including ophthalmic surgery,” said Mok, who is also an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine and an assistant professor in The University’s Department of Optics and Vision.
“These ophthalmology services are important in the prevention and treatment of retinal disease.”
Optics consultant certification could be part of a shift to more appropriate retinal services for patients.
For example, the National Health Service has introduced new guidelines for the care of vision-related diseases, including retinal diseases.
While there is some research to support the effectiveness of retinoblastoma screening in reducing retinal detachment, it is still unclear if this will be sufficient to prevent ophthalmia.
“In the future, it will be important to ensure that retinoplastomas are not treated unnecessarily,” said Dr. Jane Lenton, professor of ophthalmal surgery and director of the Vision Institute at the Royal College of Opticians.
“We need to see that more research is done to determine if there are additional benefits to lactation consulting that could be delivered to patients and their families.”
The study was funded by The Royal College Of Surgeons of Australia, the Australian Government, the Victorian Government and The Australian Medical Association.