Dr Michael Hennessey, consulting ophthalmologist for the Centre for Eye Health (L) and Optometry NSW/ACT CEO Andrew McKinnon Photo: Centre for Eye Health
By Rhiannon Riches
A new Glaucoma Management Clinic opened at the Centre for Eye Health on 11 March, potentially making glaucoma treatment more accessible for patients who may not be able to afford private treatment or wait in the public health system to see a specialist.
New South Wales Governor David Hurley officially opened the clinic. Mr Hurley is the patron of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, which established the centre five years ago as a joint initiative with the University of New South Wales to fight blindness through early detection.
The clinic will operate weekly at the centre under a shared-care model with the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District. It offers patients referred by an optometrist or ophthalmologist access to free, regular management of the disease in collaboration with their optometrist.
The clinic’s opening follows a CFEH research study, supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia grant, which found a collaborative approach to eye health care could result in improved outcomes for the growing number of glaucoma patients in Australia.
‘Given the prevalence of glaucoma increases with age, and we’re faced with a growing ageing population, we’re expecting an overload of glaucoma patients in combination with a pending shortage of ophthalmologists who can treat it,’ the centre’s director Professor Michael Kalloniatis said.
‘The Glaucoma Management Clinic is designed to reduce this expected burden on the public health system through providing a solution before the problem escalates.
‘Ultimately, we are complementing public health, not replacing it. We hope to support the Local Health District by assisting in the triaging of people diagnosed with glaucoma. This will involve those at high risk of vision loss being seen at the hospital, with stable patients monitored and managed at the centre, under supervision of an ophthalmologist,’ Professor Kalloniatis said.
At the opening of the clinic, the centre’s five years in operation were recognised. More than 25,000 people have been able to access specialist, state-of-the-art eye imaging and diagnostic services at the centre, and at no charge.
According to the centre, more than 85 per cent of optometrists in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory have registered to refer patients for assessment.
For information about the Centre for Eye Health and the Glaucoma Management Clinic, visit centreforeyehealth.com.au.