Events, News

Centre for Eye Health celebrates its first 10 years

The Centre for Eye Health (CFEH), located on the Kensington Campus of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), celebrated its first 10 years of operation on Sunday 17 November.

The CFEH, which is a collaboration between Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the UNSW, offers state of the art diagnostic and ocular disease management at no charge to patients referred to it by outside health professionals.

In addition to an outstanding array of instrumentation and equipment, it also has a well-developed research programme involving both internal and external staff. It also provides education services to optometrists and offers lengthy clinical rotations to final-year UNSW optometry students covering ocular pathology, physiology, and therapeutics. UNSW higher degree candidates also study in the Centre.

The CFEH also has satellite clinics at The Sutherland Hospital (a diabetic retinopathy clinic) and the Cameron Centre in Parramatta, servicing patients referred by Westmead Hospital.

The first 10 years

The CFEH was created to deal with non-urgent ocular disease and to become a leader in ophthalmic clinical research. Given that in its first decade it has seen 65,000 patients and, as evidenced by the number and range of research publications on display at the event, it would seem to have achieved its research goal as well.

The seed for the Centre involved Mr David Pye, then clinic director at the School of Optometry and Vision Science UNSW, Professor Michael Kalloniatis, and Mr Barry Stephen, the then President of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

Surveys have confirmed the need for such a centre and an assessment of outpatients at POW showed that 50% of those attending did not need the services offered by the eye outpatient department. Instead a combination of optometry with the support of the CFEH on an as-needed basis offered a more efficient patient flow.

Low vision services are also offered in house as well as at Guide Dogs’ Chatswood facility acting as a SOVS satellite low-vision clinic.

The event was MC’d by current Optometry Australia NSW/ACT division CEO Mr Andrew McKinnon. Mr Barry Stephen spoke on behalf of Guide Dogs, Professor Simon Kilcroft represented the Faculty of Science UNSW, and experienced ophthalmologist, educator, and researcher Associate Professor Dr Michael Hennessy represented the Centre’s ophthalmological services. Professor Lisa Keay represented SOVS as its head of school, and the final address was given by Professor Michael Kalloniatis, CFEH’s current director.

The audience consisted of numerous staff from stakeholders including the Centre itself, patients, and, probably most important of all, donors to either Guide Dogs or the CFEH.

All the signs suggest that the CFEH is going from strength to strength and there was no doubt that the centre was heading for a further decade of sterling service to the community building on the sound foundation laid in its first decade.

By Lewis Williams