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HomeminewsGlaucoma Management Clinic to Foster Collaboration

Glaucoma Management Clinic to Foster Collaboration

A Sydney glaucoma management clinic is fostering a unique collaborative model of care that aims to empower referring optometrists with additional information about their patients’ ocular health. The clinic is an initiative of the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) and the Prince of Wales Hospital Ophthalmology Department.

The Governor of NSW and Patron of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), officially launched the clinic at an event on 11 March. The event also celebrated the fifth anniversary of the CFEH, which was established by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the University of NSW in 2009 to fight blindness through early detection.

CFEH Director Professor Michael Kalloniatis said the glaucoma management clinic was a natural progression for the CFEH, which has provided more than 154,000 eye tests for 27,000 clients of referring optometrists and ophthalmologists.

“Over five years we have been providing visual system testing and diagnostic advice for all ocular diseases but glaucoma was a natural area for expansion because of the change in laws which enables us to complement information available to optometrists and also work within the new glaucoma management guidelines established in December 2014 by utilising our consultant ophthalmologist,” said Professor Kalloniatis.

The service provided at the Centre is at no charge to the patient with costs predominantly covered by support from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, with smaller contributions from Medicare and a UNSW teaching allocation.

Professor Kalloniatis said the majority of the Centre’s patients come from Sydney’s lower socio-economic areas, although the service is available to everyone. He said the collaborative care model alleviated pressure on the public hospital system and satisfied the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) guidelines for management of glaucoma. The model is based upon a consulting ophthalmologist initiating treatment but may also involve reviewing patients within the required four-month period if treatment is initiated by an optometrist. “Due to demand, this may not be possible in the public hospital system,” he said.

High Level of Professional Interest

Professor Kalloniatis said 1,219 community eye-care providers have registered to use the services of CFEH (1,125 optometrists, 91 ophthalmologists, one clinical scientist and two neurologists), where state of the art equipment that often is unaffordable in private practice, is used for testing. “Currently, 90 per cent of referrals come from optometrists and 10 per cent from ophthalmologists,” he said.

Of the 27,000 patients who have been seen by the Centre, Professor Kalloniatis said 70 per cent were at high risk of losing their sight due to eye disease and therefore needed to be reviewed more frequently than other patients to ensure vision is not lost through disease progression. “As far as the glaucoma management clinic is concerned, we will work closely with the practitioners, to provide them with additional information, to evaluate and initiate treatment for glaucoma by an ophthalmologist, and then to monitor for any change… stable chronic glaucoma can be managed in the collaborative care system quite safely.”

Guide Dogs Committed to Support

The launch of the Glaucoma Management Clinic and celebration of the CFEH’s fifth year of operation was attended by Barry Stephen Chair of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and its board members as well as board members of CFEH, major donors and ophthalmic media.

Mr. Stephen said Guide Dogs NSW/ACT was proud of the difference the CFEH had made to eye health during its five years of operation because the Centre was “absolutely fulfilling its objectives”.

“We’re spending $3 million each year in the hope of stopping people from becoming blind. In doing so, from a business perspective, the end result is we will not have to spend much more on providing Guide Dogs and ancillary services in the future because we won’t be faced with the tsunami of vision impaired people – CFEH is there to detect and diagnose eye conditions at the early stages before vision is lost.”

Mr. Stephen acknowledged the significant support of three of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s major donors, Norma May, Janis Salisbury and Doug Cameron, whose significant financial support had enabled the Centre to purchase state of the art ophthalmic equipment.