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The Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) has received over 10,000 referrals for advanced imaging and assessment of people at-risk of losing vision in NSW and the ACT.
“Early detection of eye disease is the single most important thing we can do to save sight” says centre director Professor Michael Kalloniatis. “We are here to help those who can’t afford to wait in the public system, but who also can’t pay through the private system.”
Opening its doors in 2009, the Centre for Eye Health is an innovative approach to improving public access to crucial diagnostic expertise and technology. The free service is an extra safety-net for people disadvantaged by having to choose between the overburdened public system and the fee-paying private system.
A joint initiative by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and The University of New South Wales, there is no cost to attend the Centre and people are usually seen within three weeks of being referred.
“Because of the commitment and foresight of Guide Dogs and UNSW, the stretched public health sector is better able to direct its valuable resources and ophthalmic expertise towards patients with a confirmed diagnosis and urgent treatment needs” says Professor Kalloniatis. “Equally important, 10,000 people who might still be sitting on a waiting list, or who may have ignored a private referral because they can’t afford the fees, have now been comprehensively assessed and triaged.”
With more than 1,000 eye-care practitioners registered to use the Centre, it is increasingly seen as an extension to smaller practices, allowing providers to utilise additional technology and expertise and to provide more tailored patient care. CFEH also supports optometrists by delivering continuing professional development (CPD) events and resources.
“Primary eye- care, delivered locally by well-trained and sufficiently resourced optometrists, is the future” says Professor Kalloniatis. “Optometrists are ideally placed to educate and triage patients in their own community, managing conditions within the scope of practice, utilising expertise from providers such as CFEH, and refering only those needing treatment and surgical intervention.
“With a growing and ageing Australian population, the sustainability of our health system depends on providing better quality specialist referrals and more appropriate locally-based care. In conjunction with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and UNSW, and alongside the optometrists and ophthalmologists who refer disadvantaged and at-risk patients to us, we are working hard to make this happen”.
CFEH encourages all NSW/ACT ophthalmic professionals to register and refer appropriate patients for advanced imaging and assessment.