Going the extra mile in unprecedented times

Australia and New Zealand are continuing to see success in their efforts to flatten the curve and eliminate coronavirus respectively. And as infection numbers continue to fall, we are all looking ahead to a ‘new normal’ and the return to providing the full spectrum of eye care services to all Australians and New Zealanders.

And, as we prepare to re-open our doors, we can also reflect on some of the fantastic stories of care, resilience, professionalism and ‘going the extra mile’, as displayed by our partners across the past eight weeks as we took the necessary steps to ‘close for business as usual’ but remain ‘open for care’.

  • In Devonport, TAS, store a 74-year-old female patient presented with double vision and was given an urgent appointment. The optometrist partner immediately referred her to the local Eye Hospital, and she was seen the next day. She was referred for a brain MRI, which showed that she had experienced a mini-stroke, which resulted in the double vision and has now been referred for further management and testing.
  • At Colac, VIC, an elderly patient requested an urgent appointment after noticing significantly reduced vision in one eye over three days. The diagnosis was anterior ischemic optic neuritis (AION). As the condition is often associated with stroke and heart attack, she was referred urgently to a Geelong ophthalmologist the same day who arranged for her to be admitted to University Hospital Geelong for treatment with high dose intravenous steroids for presumed GCA. Investigation confirmed GCA and she remained in hospital for two days. She will be on oral steroids for at least a few months. Her vision in the affected eye was down to CF. The vision in this eye will make a partial recovery but it is likely she will be left with significant vision loss. Importantly, the optometrist partner was able to refer her in time, so her other eye wasn’t affected.
  • In Blacktown, NSW, our optometry partner received a referral from a local GP. The patient had suffered blunt trauma to his left cheek five days prior. He had been placing a box on a high shelf when it slipped back and hit his face. As his vision was R 6/6 L 6/6-1, the GP referred to the partner at Blacktown to check for a retinal lesion. On questioning, the patient described his left vision as foggy with haloes around lights and a rainbow effect of colours. IOP measured R 12 mmHg and L 39 mmHg. The patient was referred as an emergency to the local hospital with a letter for triage. He returned to the store the following day. He has been diagnosed with traumatic glaucoma and was advised if he had delayed treatment, he would have risked losing his vision permanently. He had remained in hospital until late that previous evening with drops to lower the pressure being instilled every 30 mins. He was discharged when the pressure was 18 mmHg. He was asked to return daily to the referring optometrist for pressure measurement, who has continued to provide ongoing daily care.
  • In Sydney CBD, NSW, we treated a 62-year-old patient, who works as an anesthetist nurse. He presented with one amblyopic eye he had a day off work, so he made the appointment as his colleagues had been pointing out that he was getting too close to the computer and notes. His best-corrected vision was poor, unsafe to drive and he couldn’t read anything smaller than N10 print. It was determined this was not safe, especially considering his line of work. The store partner contacted Dr Jay Yohendran, a local ophthalmologist and eye surgeon to see if there were exceptions to the no elective surgery rule. An appointment arranged and the patient was able to get urgent surgery to correct his vision and get him back on the front line.
  • At Whitford in WA, an intensive care nurse reached out for assistance, as due to requiring PPE including a mask and face screen for several hours at a time, she needed multifocal glasses in a hurry as she was unable to remove her reading glasses while wearing PPE. The partner at Whitford was able to place her order and personally collected them from the lab when they were ready and hand-delivered them to the patient at home to ensure that she had the tools she needed to provide frontline care safely.
  • At Bonnyrigg in NSW, a three-year-old child was rushed in to see the partners after she stabbed herself in the eye with a texta. The little girl had ink on her conj and cornea. The partners were available and could quickly help rinse her eye out and remove the ink. The child’s father was so incredibly thankful Specsavers were open and able to help and ensure they could avoid a trip to hospital.
  • At Chadstone, VIC, a patient presented with symptoms of tiredness, lightheadedness. He kept bumping into things and couldn’t judge depth or track moving things with his eyes. The symptoms had started 5 days prior to reaching out for urgent care. The partner at Chadstone brought him in for an urgent appointment. His visual fields revealed left inferior homonymous quadrantanopia, greater in extent in R eye. And while the patient wanted to straight go back to work, the optometrist Insisted he had to go to an ophthalmologist to rule out a stroke or tumor.
  • At Sylvania, NSW the partners were able to assist a 93-year-old patient who had broken her glasses. After reaching out for help, the partners drove to her home, collected her glasses, repaired them and returned them back to her to ensure she could see properly, but as a part of a vulnerable group, she didn’t have to leave the safety of her home. Her family was appreciative of the extra effort taken by the partner “during such difficult times”.

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