A common part of an optometrist's clinical consulting life is diagnosing and discussing cataracts. Cataracts are a common condition where the lens in the eye looses its transparency. It is a condition which we should all be aiming to get as cataracts are a sign of longevity. Fortunately, cataracts are easily fixed with a one-off elective surgery, and the result for most people is a big improvement in their quality of vision.
There are two options for cataracts surgery, via the public health system where treatment is free of charge, or privately. This is an update on referral through the public health system, which is Greenlane Eye Clinic for our local Warkworth area.
Greenlane Eye Clinic is a busy place, providing care for 95,000 people each year. Given that volume of people, the response times are mostly pretty good. When someone has an acute eye problem they are seen quickly. Non urgent conditions like cataracts are prioritised in a methodical fashion, and ranked according to the level of vision. How does it work?
As optometrists we enter your clinical data into an online scoring system. The important information is which line of letters you can read on the chart. There is also a questionnaire about how cataracts are impacting on your daily living. The jargon for the questions is a little bit difficult but the intention is good - to try to priortise treatment for people who are struggling the most. We are good at these questionnaires and we can translate for you! Then comes the score. Generated by the online tool and the magical number is 50.
It seems arbitrary, but the online scoring tool is helpful so we can give you a realistic guide to the expected wait time for an appointment at the Eye Clinic.
What happens if the score is too low? Often we can help with advice about improving your vision through updating glasses, or using different tinted fitover glasses to improve clarity of vision when you have cataracts.
by Claire McDonald, Optometrist, Warkworth