Care in a time of crisis: how our partners are making a difference

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, health professionals have come to the fore as the heroes of the crisis, by providing high-quality healthcare to all Australians amidst the most challenging of circumstances.

Our partners have played, and continue to play, an essential role during the crisis, by providing urgent and critical eye care and support to customers across the country. They have also displayed professionalism, commitment and compassion, as they continually go above and beyond to support all our customers and ensure high levels of care are provided to help ease the burden on our healthcare system.

Here are just a few examples of why it is so crucial that we remain ‘open for care’ during this pandemic.

  • At Ellenbrook, WA, a patient reached out for urgent care after experiencing severe headaches. The patient had been hospitalised for the pain but had since been discharged. Even though the CT scan had proven normal, on further examination with the OCT, the partner at Ellenbrook found papilloedema, which had been missed at the first hospital. The partner was then able to liaise with the Ophthalmologist at the Royal Perth Hospital to see and treat the patient straight away.
  • In Robina, QLD, partners treated a very distressed nurse who was working in a care home. The patient was experiencing excruciating pain but was unable to get an appointment with her local GP or be treated at the local hospital. After contacting the partners on the emergency mobile number, they opened the store, and her examination showed chronic Anterior uveitis and extremely high pressures of 42 and a huge corneal ulcer. The partners then made an out of hours phone call to the local ophthalmologist who was able to treat her urgently.
  • In Keysborough, VIC, the day before the Easter long weekend, a 46-year-old patient with Type 1 diabetes phoned to say that she was having trouble seeing out of one eye. The optometrist partner triaged her over the phone and the lady was seen in-store an hour later. An OCT showed non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and clinically significant macular oedema. An appointment was arranged to see the local ophthalmologist after the Easter long weekend, where an intravitreal injection was performed to treat the macular oedema.
  • In Blacktown, NSW, a patient presented with double vision. Upon presentation, the partner noticed the patient was not walking normally and his gait was unsteady. He also appeared confused and was having difficulty answering simple questions without referring to his wife for help. Further questioning revealed that these signs had been getting gradually worse for several weeks. Examination revealed his right eye was turned in which was giving him the double vision. He was referred urgently to the local eye specialist, for triage for a suspected vascular issue, to avoid a visit to the local hospital emergency department as he was in the vulnerable age group for COVID-19. He was assessed and referred for an emergency MRI to check for a tumor and brain hemorrhage. Fortunately, the MRI was negative for both. He has been diagnosed as having suspected sixth nerve palsy secondary to stroke or a neurological condition. Without the onset of the double vision, his condition may have gone undiagnosed for much longer without the keen eye of the optical partner.
  • At Eaton, WA, the partner provided an urgent care appointment to the head of medical services for the local private hospital. He had been working 80-hour weeks to prepare for the expected influx of COVID-19 patients. He was unable to function with his current spectacles and was worried that he had developed a cataract. He was very thankful that we could see him and confirm that his eyes are healthy and arrange new spectacles.
  • In Randwick, NSW an 84-year-old male presented for an initial consult as he had fallen on his walk and broken his glasses. He had just been discharged from hospital. The VA in his left eye was slightly reduced so the partner performed an OCT and detected sub retinal fluid in that eye. The partner made a quick call to the local ophthalmologist, who was able to see the patient the same day and diagnosed a very early left choroidal neovascularization and performed an eyelea injection.
  • In Karrinyup, WA, a patient called for advice on her recent symptoms of flashes and floaters. She had requested care from a few other optometrists but was unable to secure an appointment. During the urgent care exam, a retinal detachment was diagnosed. The patient advised that she had recently lost her job so was unable to afford a consult with a specialist privately. The local hospital’s eye department was not able to see nor treat her. The partner left a message with the secretary of a retinal specialist to ask for advice. The specialist, Dr Vignesh Raja from Joondalup, returned the call within five minutes and offered to see the patient privately, treat her detachment, and only claim the Medicare rebate for the appointment. This quick thinking and collaboration resulted in the patient’s eyesight preserved at 6/6 in each eye.