The chief of optometry at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs hospital in California, Curtis W. Keswick, O.D., has been put on administrative leave following an investigation into the care of nearly 400 glaucoma patients. Some of the patients had "progressive visual loss" while under care, and seven went blind.

This investigation comes directly on the heels of the acceptance of education standards for glaucoma certification for California O.D.s.

The VA is looking into whether all glaucoma patients seen by optometrists had their cases overseen by ophthalmology, which is the policy at the Palo Alto VA.

"Administrators at the Palo Alto VA became aware this had not occurred in some cases," said VA press secretary Katie Roberts in a statement. "Leadership took immediate action, ordering an exhaustive review of all glaucoma patients and patients at risk for glaucoma who were being actively seen in optometry."

"As part of the investigation, which is still ongoing, I have been mandated not to talk with anyone about it," Dr. Keswick told the Palo Alto Daily News.

The California State Board of Optometry confirmed that it had received no complaints related to O.D.s treating glaucoma cases.

The California Optometric Association (COA) made an official statement in support of Dr. Keswick. "I've known Curt for almost a decade as a compassionate and thorough optometrist," says Hilary Hawthorne, O.D., COA president. "It's sad that this information was given to the media before he was given the opportunity to respond fully. We're hopeful that he'll be able to confront his unnamed accusers in public, to protect his rights and his reputation."

Just days before Dr. Keswick was removed, the State Board of Optometry approved guidelines for California O.D.s to become glaucoma practitioners. These standards allow O.D.s who graduated after 2008 to be glaucoma certified without any additional requirements. Optometrists who graduated before 2008 are required to manage 25 cases while under guidance of an ophthalmologist or glaucoma-certified O.D.