FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Addressing the unique challenges of delivering quality specialist eye health care to regional, remote and Indigenous communities across our state.

Outreach Eye Health Clinics

Outreach Eye Health Clinics

REFERRALS

You will need a valid REFERRAL LETTER from your General Practitioner (G.P.), Optometrist or other Specialist in order to obtain an Eye Health Clinic appointment with the visiting Ophthalmologist.

Referrals from your GP and/or Optometrist are valid for a 12 month period from the date of issue. Referrals from another Specialist are valid for a 3 month period only. If you do not have a valid referral for your appointment you will receive a lesser rebate from Medicare.

Your referring practitioner should forward your referral letter to the appropriate Outreach Eye Health Clinic Location by email, fax or post. This is the most efficient method of requesting appointments.

Click here to access the Ophthalmology Outreach Service Locator and referral details.

What happens after my referral has been forwarded to the Eye Health Clinic?

The referral letters are registered on the clinic database and patients are scheduled an appropriate appointment based on medical need.

Patients are then informed in writing of the appointment date and time. Please note: certain Eye Health Clinics have lengthy appointment waiting lists. Please ensure that your appointment date and time is kept in a secure place.

What are dilating drops?

Your eye examination frequently involves pupil dilation, which causes blurred vision.It is therefore advisable not to drive. These drops will likely blur your vision for several hours. It is also advised that you bring a pair of sunglasses with you as they will provide comfort from glare on sunny days.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

If your referral has not been forwarded to the Eye Health Clinic by your health practitioner, please bring your referral with you to your appointment. Please bring your Medicare card. Please also bring your current prescription distance and reading glasses. We also suggest that you bring a pair of dark sunglasses with you as the sun’s glare may bother you after your appointment.

What if I am a diabetic?

If you are diabetic please take your insulin/ medication and meals as normal before you attend your appointment. It is also advised that you bring your insulin or medication if you are due to take them during your appointed time. Please bring a snack with you in case of delay, or if you have special dietary needs.

How to get the most from your eye health consultation

– Prepare a list of questions you want to discuss with the Ophthalmologist.
– Bring a relative or a friend with you as this may make you feel more comfortable.
– If you don’t understand what your doctor is saying, please do not hesitate to ask him/her to explain again.
– Write down important points.
– Don’t be afraid to express your concerns and say how you really feel.

At the end of your consultation, check your list and make sure that your questions are answered.

How can I contact the eye health clinic in my local area?

You can find the contact details for the Eye Health Clinic in your local area in the Outreach Services Locator section of this website. Enter your search criteria in the search box to locate your local Eye Health Clinic and contact details.

Where can i find more information about specific eye conditions?

Information regarding eye conditions is available on this website. Click here to access this information as well as useful resources and links relating to specific eye conditions.

what happens if i can’t make my appointment?

Please notify the Eye Health Clinic in advance if you are unable to keep your appointment. The appointment can then be given to another person on the waiting list. Click here to find the contact details for the Eye Health Clinic you have been referred to.

Outreach Surgical Services

Outreach Surgical Services

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)

Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s ability to properly control the levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. When the body doesn’t produce enough of a hormone called insulin, the disease is referred to as type 1 diabetes. However, if the body’s tissues don’t respond properly to the action of insulin (insulin resistance), the disease is referred to as type 2 diabetes – the more common form of the disease which remains largely undiagnosed.

Diabetes affects about 7.2% of the Australian population aged 25 years and older. One in five Australians over the age of 65 years has Diabetes.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)?

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the micro-vascular complication of diabetes where leakage and blockage of small vessels in the retina cause swelling of retinal tissue, abnormal blood vessel growth, cell death, and retinal detachments.

DR is one of the leading causes of blindness and vision loss in Australia.  All people with Diabetes are at risk of developing retinopathy, which if left untreated can lead to vision loss or blindness.

Compared to the general population, people with diabetes have a 25-fold risk of vision loss. However, with early detection of retinopathy, vision loss can be prevented in almost all cases. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing cataract. Vision loss from cataract can be detected with the visual acuity testing that is part of the screening for diabetic retinopathy.

Causes

Although all people with diabetes are at some risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, you are at greater risk if:

– You have had diabetes for a long time
– Your diabetes is poorly controlled
– You have high cholesterol
– You have kidney damage
– You have high blood pressure or
– You are on insulin treatment

However, blood glucose and blood pressure control remain the major modifiable risk factors influencing the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Treatment

Laser treatment is very effective for prevention of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, however, laser treatment cannot restore vision that has already been lost. Therefore it is essential to detect and treat diabetic retinopathy before any vision loss occurs.

The ultimate outcome of treatment depends on the severity and progression of the diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and treatment are vital. The best prevention is well controlled diabetes through healthy eating and exercise. Normal range blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol all help to prevent this eye disease and control its progression.

Preparing for treatment

Laser treatment is usually performed as an outpatient procedure using a local or topical anaesthetic that affects only the eye. You do not have to stay overnight in a hospital.

You will need someone to drive you home from the doctor’s office or clinic after the procedure.

Dilating drops are used to widen your pupil (black part of the eye) before the procedure. Your eye will remain dilated for several hours after the procedure. We recommend that you wear dark sunglasses to keep bright light out of your eyes while they are still dilated.

Further drops will be placed in your eye to numb the surface, and then a special contact lens will be placed on the eye to hold your lids open and to focus the laser beam onto your retina. The lens will be removed after you have had the treatment.

The laser treatment involves focusing an intense beam of light onto your retina in small spots. The number of spots will vary according to the type of diabetic change you have and how severe the changes are.

Your eye will become accustomed to the brightness during the treatment but at the end you will be dazzled and your sight will seem darkened for several minutes.

Post Treatment Care

Laser treatment is usually performed as an outpatient procedure using a local or topical anaesthetic that affects only the eye. You do not have to stay overnight in a hospital.

You will need someone to drive you home from the doctor’s office or clinic after the procedure.

Dilating drops are used to widen your pupil (black part of the eye) before the procedure. Your eye will remain dilated for several hours after the procedure. We recommend that you wear dark sunglasses to keep bright light out of your eyes while they are still dilated.

Further drops will be placed in your eye to numb the surface, and then a special contact lens will be placed on the eye to hold your lids open and to focus the laser beam onto your retina. The lens will be removed after you have had the treatment.

The laser treatment involves focusing an intense beam of light onto your retina in small spots. The number of spots will vary according to the type of diabetic change you have and how severe the changes are.

Your eye will become accustomed to the brightness during the treatment but at the end you will be dazzled and your sight will seem darkened for several minutes.

Your sight will normally return to its previous level over the next few hours and you will be able to continue your work or normal activities the next day. Rarely, your sight can take longer to return to normal.

Usually, the treatment is not painful. Sometimes however, the treatment will cause a sharp pricking feeling when certain areas of the retina are treated. This will happen where nerves run under the retina. The ophthalmologist is not able to see these nerves.

If you have had a number of laser sessions in the past, you may feel some discomfort during the treatment. If you have felt discomfort in the past, take some Panadol or Nurofen an hour before your appointment.

You should seek medical advice if you have any new eye problems after your laser treatment.

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Telemedicine

Telemedicine

What is Telemedicine?

Broadly defined, Telemedicine is the delivery of any healthcare service or transmission of wellness information using telecommunications technology.

Telemedicine seeks to improve a patient’s health by permitting a two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient and the specialist at the distant site.

The common goal of any Telemedicine application is to increase access and ease of specialist health care, especially for regional and remote populations.

Tele-ophthalmology Defined

Tele-ophthalmology means using videoconference equipment to have a consultation with the eye specialist in Perth without leaving your hometown.

For example: a GP treating a patient in an AMS can refer the patient to an Ophthalmologist for a consultation via telemedicine. During the consultation, the patient and specialist will be able to see and communicate with each other directly via video conferencing technology.

What are the benefits of Tele-ophthalmology?

– You and/or you family do not have to wait until the eye specialist’s next outpatient clinic in your hometown
– You and/or your family do not have to go to Perth to see the eye specialist, saving you travel time and potential costs

How is a Tele-ophthalmology consultation scheduled?

Initially, you will be assessed by a health professional in your hometown. This person could be your local GP, the optometrist or a doctor in the hospital’s Emergency Department. This assessment will determine whether or not a Tele-ophthalmology consultation is required.

If Tele-ophthalmology is appropriate, the local health professional will explain the process to you and if you agree to continue, you will be asked to give verbal consent for the eye specialist consultation.

The local health professional will then organise an appointment with the eye specialist. The time will be dependent on the urgency of your condition. It will usually take place from where you were referred.

If you have special needs such as an interpreter or a wheelchair, please let the local health professional know and they will make a note of these when your consultation with the eye specialist is confirmed.

What happens in a video consultation?

A video consultation is very similar to a face-to-face consultation. It will normally involve you, the eye specialist and your local health professional. You may also choose your spouse, partner, family member, or friend to accompany you.

Once the computer connection is established, the video consultation will proceed as per a standard face-to-face consultation. Depending on your condition it will usually take about 10 minutes.

During the consultation, you should feel free to ask any questions or concerns you have regarding your condition.

If you would like to discuss anything privately with the specialist, you may ask the local health professional to step out at any time. The same privacy and confidentiality requirements that apply to face-to-face consultations also apply to video consultations.

Do I have to participate in a video consultation?

No. You may attend a face-to-face consultation with your eye specialist if you would prefer. However, normal travel or waiting times will apply. A video consultation will only happen if your local health professional considers it safe and you approve.

Will the video consultation be recorded?

No video footage of your consultation will be recorded. However, the eye specialist will record the details of your consultation on a secure electronic medical record.

How much will it cost?

Medicare currently provides rebates for Telehealth consultations. This means that you will not have any out-of-pocket expenses.

Where can I find further information about Telehealth?

If you have any questions about Tele-ophthalmology please ask your local health professional or the eye specialist.