MidCentral DHB has secured $104,000 from the Ministry of Health to streamline its ophthalmology services.
Operations Director Hospital Services Lyn Horgan said: “The funding will allow us to improve several of our treatment areas. For example, we will boost our emerging nurse-led intravitreal injection service for those suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Within the next six months, we expect 80 to 90 percent of those injections to be done in a nurse-led outpatient clinic and for some of those injections to be done the same day or within two weeks of the decision to treat.”
AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision.
Improvements will also be made to the optometrist-led glaucoma service at the hospital, with further training of optometrists in this complex area. Redistributing work to credentialled optometrists, under the oversight of Senior Medical Officers, has proved successful with the service delivered at hospital-based clinics.
The cataract service will also be reassessed and a new model will be scoped and tested and implemented in the foreseeable future. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40, and the principal cause of blindness in the world.
As the region’s population ages, ophthalmology services face increasing demand. Over 1,800 new patients a year are seen by MidCentral’s service and over the last five years, new patient numbers have risen 23 percent.
Ms Horgan said: “We have been working on these challenges for some time so we can stay ahead of rising demand. This funding will allow us to take stock of our continual improvements to the service and will give us the means to continue to strengthen them.”
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