One of Duncan and Todd’s Optometrists Lindsey gives us an insight into how she is helping support the community, working with the NHS Grampian Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centres.
Lindsey highlights how technology is being used to minimise the time or need for patients to be seen in person while maximising the care.
Since 1st April I have been working in one of the NHS Grampian Emergency Eyecare Treatment Centres (EETC). These were set up locally by NHS Grampian to see all eye emergencies in the community and therefore alleviate the pressure on the hospital.
I have been involved in managing a wide variety of eye conditions and working closely with the ophthalmologists at ARI via teleophthalmology.
We can receive around 25-30 email referrals a day from community optometrists who have triaged their patients remotely. Most of these patients require a face to face consultation at one of the 5 EETC’s.
Prior to seeing the patient, we get a full history, check vision remotely and get photos/videos of their eyes from a remote optometrist. This minimises the time the patient needs to spend in practice with us. In the NHS Grampian EETC we wear PPE provided by NHS Grampian which consists of aprons, masks & gloves to protect both us and the patients.
We are very lucky to have sophisticated equipment available in the NHS Grampian EETC’s including Optomap, OCT and video slit lamp. This allows us to get a fantastic view of the eye in the shortest possible time.
During the last 7 weeks I have seen a large variety of eye conditions, from retinal detachments to foreign body’s and retinal bleeding. Each condition requires a tailor-made assessment to reach a diagnosis and treatment plan quickly and effectively.
Once we have examined the patient, we can then link with teleophthalmology to allow them to see a live video feed of the patient and see any images we have taken. This allows us to make a diagnosis in conjunction with ophthalmology and decide on a treatment plan. It also means that in most cases the patient doesn’t need to attend ARI eye clinic. Generally, less than 1 patient a day out of the 25-30 referrals need to go to the hospital.
Last week there was an interesting case, where a patient had a 24hr history of loss of inferior vision in their left eye. Optomap showed that they had a blockage in one of the arteries. It was therefore preventing blood from reaching the retina in that area. We contacted teleophthalmology who confirmed our diagnosis and that referral to the GP was required. The GP was asked to do a stroke risk assessment and if necessary, prescribe a blood thinner to prevent further clots in the eye or elsewhere in the body.
I am loving the work; it has been a privilege to be involved in such a new and exciting project. Im looking forward to continuing to support our communities with their eyecare.