August 14, 2023

Eye-opener into the Ophthalmology and Orthoptic departments

The Northern Health Ophthalmology and Orthoptic departments have expanded to full-time to cater for an increase in referral demands.

Based at Broadmeadows Hospital, the Ophthalmology department provides specialists ophthalmology care to patients in the northern catchment. It can provide assessment, diagnosis, prevention, medical and surgical management of various eye conditions in adults.

The main ophthalmology surgical procedures performed at Broadmeadows Hospital are cataracts, pterygia and minor lid surgeries. The department was originally open three days a week, and in August last year, moved to a full-time service from Monday to Friday.

Lilian Akimana, Associate Nurse Unit Manager Clinic Lead, Ophthalmology Department, said the expansion was due to an increase in referrals, and a long waitlist due to reduced face-to-face appointments brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a growing and ageing population, and our services need to be accessible to address the needs of the patients in a timely fashion,” she said.

“Since our expansion to full time, we have now been able to reduce our waitlist to a very manageable timeframe. Patients can be seen and treated earlier and most importantly, in their local area, reducing the need for these patients to travel far.”

“This is the best outcome for patient experience and satisfaction overall.”

The Ophthalmology Department is staffed by a very dynamic multidisciplinary team made up of ophthalmologists, orthoptists, nursing and administrative staff, who all worked together to provide holistic care to patients.

Gary Campbell, Mill Park resident and recent Northern Health patient, underwent right and left cataracts surgery. Gary said he couldn’t speak highly enough of the service he received.

“I have not had one bad experience. The staff treated me perfectly. No complains whatsoever, couldn’t have been at a better facility. I was treated with the best care here,” he said.

Also based at Broadmeadows Hospital is the Orthoptic department. Ophthalmology and Orthoptics work collaboratively in investigating and managing diseases of the eye.

“An orthoptist is primarily responsible for all preliminary assessments of every patient prior to seeing the Ophthalmologist,” said Zeina Dayoub, Senior Orthoptist.

“To perform these investigations, orthoptists are highly trained in using specialised technology to detect and measure the progression of eye disease – these include instruments such as ultrasonography machines (A-Scans and Pachymeters), tomographers (Ocular Coherence Tomographer), retinal cameras and visual fields.”

“With respect to cataract patients, orthoptists are involved in undertaking a number of peri-operative investigations to determine the patient’s potential vision, surgical requirements including optical lens to be inserted in the eye during surgery and assessing the post-operative vision and outcome.”

Orthoptics also recently extended their hours to fulltime, Monday to Friday, which has greatly improved patient throughput. On average, the department sees 20 to 40 patients per day, depending on the clinic. The department is composed of seven orthoptists managed by Kym Patterson, Associate Director of Speech Pathology, Audiology and Orthoptics.

“Patients now receive a prompt, and accessible service, which has not only benefited patients, but also boosted staff morale. The extension of hours has greatly improved patient throughput,” Zeina said.

Orthoptic lead services currently provided are cataract assessment clinics, visual fields testing and A-Scan Clinic. Orthoptists are also involved in an epidemiological study led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes institute together with Northern Health which looks at ways of identifying people with type 2 diabetes who are at risk of developing diabetic complications, in this instance, diabetic retinopathy.

The department accepts referrals from Optometrists, internal and external providers as well as GPs.

It is essential that the current vision and/or ocular and medical history is included in the referral to enable accurate triage. Referral can be made via Health Direct Fax to (03) 84058616. For internal referrals, via CPF.

Featured image: Gary Campbell, far left with Ophthalmology and Orthoptic teams at Broadmeadows Hospital.