New service saves eye patients’ independence

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Travelling long distances for treatment can be daunting, especially if it is to fix failing eyesight, so Ipswich Day Hospital has launched a new service to treat patients' vision problems locally.

Retinal surgeon and macular disease specialist Dr Tom Moloney said previously some patients had no option but to leave their eye conditions untreated because it was too difficult for them to go to Brisbane to see specialists.

“Providing this care to the community locally and reducing the need for travel will help patients to maintain their independence,” Dr Moloney said.

David Hines was the first patient to receive a vision-saving vitrectomy in Ipswich, which is now the only private hospital in the region to provide this procedure and vision-saving macular surgery.

“I was absolutely terrified going into the surgery but after a very successful 40-minute surgery thanks to Dr Moloney and the brilliant surgical team, I was able to return home,” he said.

“The thought of losing your eyesight is horrifying – access to the surgery right here in Ipswich meant that I didn’t need to wait up to eight weeks for a specialist appointment.

“I can’t thank Dr Moloney enough and I feel so privileged to be part of such an innovative new procedure.”

Vitreoretinal surgery – a variety of delicate procedures within the eye's interior – is usually performed under local anaesthetic with twilight sedation, and can take between 45 minutes and two hours.

In most cases, patients can go home without requiring overnight hospitalisation, Dr Moloney said, and then have a follow-up visit with him the next day.

“We’re very fortunate that Cura Day Hospitals Group and Ipswich Day Hospital have invested in a lot of equipment so that we can provide the surgery locally,” he added.

Macular degeneration may be harder to detect, as sight slowly deteriorates over time with few symptoms, such as wavy lines or blurriness of vision, but Dr Moloney said there was a growing need for treatment – often eye injections – in an ageing population.

If left untreated, it can lead to partial or total vision loss.

“We wanted to be able to offer that treatment, along with subspecialist retinal care, to the Ipswich community,” Dr Moloney said.

Cura Day Hospitals Group CEO Andrew Currie said the new service would revolutionise eye care for patients in regional Ipswich and remote areas.

“It’s been a great privilege for the team at the Ipswich Day Hospital to be the first private hospital in the region to launch the vision-saving technology,” he said, noting that previously the closest facility to offer it was over 30 kilometres away.

“Cura Day Hospitals Group is constantly looking for ways to improve care and outcomes for patients. With increased lockdowns and the uncertainty of the pandemic, immediate access to this type of healthcare is vital,” he added.

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