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(L-R) Associate Professor Allison McKendrick, Associate Professor Daryl Guest and Associate Professor Andrew Symons with a patient at the satellite clinic

Photo: University of Melbourne

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By Helen Carter

 

A new partnership between The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne has resulted in a clinic which is giving hospital patients faster access to outpatient eye care.

As part of an historic agreement between the two institutions, The RMH Ophthalmology Clinic has opened a weekly satellite service at University of Melbourne EyeCare, the student training clinic run by the university’s Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences.

The initiative is giving optometry students valuable clinical experience.

Head of Ophthalmology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Associate Professor Andrew Symons, said the initiative reduced waiting times for clinic appointments and improved access to the hospital’s outpatient service for patients requiring eye care.

‘Patients on the Royal Melbourne Hospital ophthalmology waiting list who are deemed appropriate have the option of undergoing their initial assessments at the satellite service,’ he said in a media release.

‘Depending on the treatment required, patients are booked into the appropriate procedures at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.’

Clinic director of University of Melbourne EyeCare, Associate Professor Daryl Guest, said it was the first time in Australia that an interdisciplinary clinic of this nature had been established at a university.

‘A key benefit of the clinic is optometry students are working with ophthalmologists while still being in familiar surroundings,’ Professor Guest said. ‘The students can learn in a clinical setting about the progression of disease from an ophthalmological point of view.

‘They will gain insights into when ophthalmological assessment and management is most appropriate in treating ocular diseases, and experience first-hand how to work with ophthalmologists.’

Professor Guest said that three clinics had run so far. Professor Symons and he run the clinics and fourth-year optometry students work up patients and present a presumptive diagnosis and management options to Professor Symons.

Professor Guest said that after confirmation of the findings and diagnosis by the ophthalmologist, patients may be referred back to the hospital for interventions such as cataract surgery, be booked in for review and treatment at the RMH Ophthalmology at UM EyeCare clinic or be discharged.

RMH Ophthalmology and the university’s Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences are also working together on research into adaptive optics in imaging microvascular retinal changes in disease and animal models of retinal disease.

The RMH Ophthalmology at UM EyeCare clinic operates on Friday mornings.

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