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Friday / April 19.
HomeminewsCentre for Eye Health gets tick of approval

Centre for Eye Health gets tick of approval

The new Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) is winning praise while experiencing a steady rise in the number of consultations, referrals and registrations by eye health professionals.

More than 500 optometrists and ophthalmologists have registered with CFEH and referred more than 450 patients for testing since the Centre’s official opening late last year (see graph). Glaucoma and optic nerve-related testing and assessments account for half of referrals, followed by retina and macular testing and assessments.

CFEH is an integrated facility providing state-of-the-art eye imaging and visual system diagnostic services to the community, at no charge. Based at the University of New South Wales and staffed by senior optometrists, the Centre houses more than 20 advanced eye-imaging instruments in one location.

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We were concerned about the decrease in vision, but couldn’t access a clear retinal view due to her cataract, and her retinal photography was also inconclusive

Ophthalmologists, engaged through the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service, are also available at the Centre to consult on patients as required. Established and funded entirely by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, the Centre has a mandate to help reduce the incidence of preventable blindness through the early detection of eye diseases.

CFEH Director Professor Michael Kalloniatis is pleased with the registration and referral numbers.

“Following our three month trial, where we tested and refined our processes, we invited all optometrists in NSW and the ACT to register and refer patients to the Centre. More than 35 per cent of NSW and ACT-based optometrists have now registered with the Centre (total of 497 optometrists), which account for 94 per cent of our referrals. This is a great response and highlights the unmet demand for an advanced eye imaging and visual assessment referral service,” he says.

“We’re now targeting ophthalmology and I have recently written to more than 300 NSW and ACT-based ophthalmologists with invitations to register and refer patients for testing. Three per cent of ophthalmologists in NSW and the ACT have already registered of their own accord and account for six per cent of referrals.”

CFEH sees itself adding value to existing eye health care in NSW and the ACT by ensuring that greater numbers of people can access eye health services. Its mission is to complement established referral pathways and add resource capacity at a time when demand for eye health services is mounting due to an ageing population and capacity constraints within the public health system.

Sydney optometrist Russel Lazarus has referred a dozen clients to CFEH for testing and assessment since registering in December 2009. “My patients have been astonished that a free service provides such a high level of service and care using state-of-the-art equipment,” says Lazarus, who runs the Family Eye Centre in Edgecliff.

Mr. Lazarus referred 69 year-old Karin to CFEH for a routine macula assessment after she reported deteriorating vision in her right eye. “We were concerned about the decrease in vision, but couldn’t access a clear retinal view due to her cataract, and her retinal photography was also inconclusive,” he says.

As part of the assessment at CFEH, wide-view clinical photography was undertaken that revealed an incidental finding: a small peripheral retinal tear in her right eye. As a consequence of the incidental finding, a recommendation for further assessment by a retinal specialist was made.

“The retina is a light sensitive nerve layer lining the inner surface of the eye,” says Lazarus. “Karin could have suffered further loss of vision if the retinal tear was undetected. In this case, I was very relieved to have the Centre to turn to for a comprehensive examination and management recommendation.”

Optometrists and ophthalmologists wishing to access CFEH’s services must first register with the Centre. The referring practitioner specifies the required tests and results are then sent back to the referrer. Patient management remains with the referring practitioner and the Centre does not initiate, carry out or suggest treatment for patients.

CFEH is strongly committed to equity and aims to ensure that social, geographic and economic circumstances aren’t barriers to accessing the best eye-testing and diagnostic services available. It provides accommodation assistance to eligible patients travelling to the Centre from outside Sydney. Eligible clients include those who receive a government concession and/or are facing financial hardship.

CFEH: benefits to eye-health practitioners and patients
  • Direct and easy access to advanced eye-imaging and assessment for patients and prompt report sending
  • Free testing and assistance programs remove financial and geographical barriers for diagnostic testing
  • Comprehensive and state-of-the-art instrumentation suite means optometrists and ophthalmologists may not need to acquire expensive and rarely used diagnostic equipment
  • Overall improvement in ocular disease knowledge among optometrists, thus leading to more informed referrals to ophthalmologists
  • Increased ‘triaging’ of referrals from optometrists to ophthalmologists allowing ophthalmologists more time to focus on patients requiring their expertise
  • Increase in the overall number of people accessing eye health care and services

For more information, phone CFEH on (AUS) 1300 421 960.