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Melanie Lai (Head Orthoptist), Maria Tran (Orthoptist), Jodie Attard (Acting Orthoptic Student Educator), Sally Steenbeek (Orthoptist)

Orthoptists play a key role in assessing children and adults that approach the Sydney Eye Hospital with eye turns and disorders affecting the eye movements.)

We are university trained allied health professionals that specialise in providing thorough assessments of alignment of the eyes, movement of the eyes, and the ability of the eyes to work together. Orthoptists conservatively manage symptoms of double vision or eye strain that patients may experience from disorders affecting the function of their eye muscles or ability of their eyes to work together. By working with patients and understanding their needs, Orthoptists are able to help patients manage their symptoms and minimise the impact symptoms have on their daily activities and general wellbeing.

Orthoptists are also highly skilled in the area of treating amblyopia (or lazy eye) in children. Up until the age of 8 years, the visual system of a child is still developing. It is crucial that any reduction in vision is detected and treated as soon as possible to help the child’s vision and visual system to develop normally. If a vision defect is not found until later in childhood, it reduces the potential for normal vision following treatment. When a vision defect is found, the orthoptist and ophthalmologist work together with the child and their parents to treat and improve the child’s vision.

The Sydney Eye Orthoptists have a clinic dedicated to screening children to promote early detection of vision defects, eye turns, and eye muscle disorders that may impact a child’s vision and visual development. We also take part in the NSW Health State-wide preschool vision screening program that aims to provide all 4 year olds with a free vision screening and access to care when vision defects are found.

Orthoptists also have expertise in using specialty diagnostic equipment for assessment of chronic and age related eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, retinal conditions, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease.

The Sydney Eye Hospital Orthoptic department accepts referrals from optometrists, family doctors, and private ophthalmology clinics.

Sarah is a 13 year old girl from Coffs Harbour who first came to the Sydney Eye Hospital when she was 12 years old.

She was born with a large eye turn which worsened as she grew older and had seen an eye specialist close to home. Surgery was recommended to correct her eye turn, however, due to financial pressures this was not a possibility.

When Sarah started high school, she was bullied because of her eye turn. She was later diagnosed with depression as a result of the bullying she was subjected to.

Sarah’s mother was desperate to be able to do something to help her daughter. A friend of hers recommended that she contact the Sydney Eye Hospital to see if they could help.

After receiving the referral from Sarah’s family doctor, Sarah was given an appointment at our paediatric and strabismus ophthalmology clinic. Sarah’s mother was thrilled to hear that not only would she have the opportunity to have Sarah seen at the Sydney Eye Hospital, but also if surgery was recommended, it would be at no cost to her.

In January 2016, Sarah and her mother came for their first visit to the Sydney Eye Hospital. At the appointment, Orthoptists assessed Sarah’s eyes to help determine the type of eye turn Sarah had, the range of movement of her eye muscles, and whether her eyes were able to work together.

“Sarah’s eye condition was having a significant impact on her wellbeing and recommended that surgery was an ideal option.”

Following her assessment with the Orthoptist, Sarah was then seen by Dr Michael Jones. He recognised that Sarah’s eye condition was having a significant impact on her wellbeing and recommended that surgery was an ideal option for her at this point in time.

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Within 6 months of her first appointment at the Sydney Eye Hospital, Sarah had eye surgery to straighten her eyes.

Ten days following her operation, Sarah and her mother returned for review so the Orthoptists could assess the positioning of her eyes post-surgery.

“Sarah’s mother shed tears of joy when she saw the smile on her daughter’s face with her eyes now straightened.”

Sarah and her mother were extremely happy with the outcome, with Sarah’s eye turn almost completely straightened. Following her surgery, it was clear to see the impact this had on Sarah’s general wellbeing. She was visibly happier, constantly chatting and smiling, and engaging with others.

Sarah’s mother shed tears of joy when she saw the smile on her daughter’s face with her eyes now straightened. When Sarah attends the Sydney Eye Hospital for eye reviews, she now enjoys sharing stories with the Orthoptists explaining how she now feels confident to stand up to the people that used to bully her.

Sarah will be returning to the Sydney Eye Hospital for her next review in a two months’ time and we are looking forward to hearing of her progress. (Name has been changed to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality)

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NEW RETINA CAMERA SAVES SIGHT

A new ultra-widefield retinal camera can save sight by improving early detection of common causes of vision loss.

This latest advance in technology takes photographs of a large span of the retina’s outer edges, leading to a better understanding of how different conditions affect all parts of the retina. Some of the first signs of eye disease and systemic disease can be seen in the retina before they cause other symptoms, including vision loss.

The Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation (SEHF) is raising funds to purchase an Optos California ultra-widefield retinal camera for the hospital, to help ophthalmologists to see and diagnose these early, subtle changes – which previously went undetected – so they can be treated before sight loss occurs.

Demand for excellent eye care, including for conditions that affect the retina, is growing, says Kevin Gardner, the SEHF Chief Executive Officer.

“One of the main drivers of this growth in demand is Australia’s ageing population,” he explains. More than 85% of vision loss occurs in people aged over fifty. Diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are two of the most common causes of vision loss worldwide and the risk for both conditions rises with age. Early stages of both of these conditions can be detected in the periphery of the retina.

“Early detection can have a significant impact on reducing sight loss. Research tells us that up to 90% of vision loss can be prevented with regular, accurate eye tests.”

The Optos camera system has an important role to play in early detection. Existing imaging cameras capture only 15% of the retina in each photo. Scattered light and obstructions such as cataracts, corneal pathology and astigmatism can reduce the quality of the photo. Patient’s pupils are dilated with eye drops in an attempt to improve the images, causing the discomfort of blurred vision and light sensitivity for some time after the examination.

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“ EXISTING IMAGING CAMERAS CAPTURE ONLY 15% OF THE RETINA IN EACH PHOTO. IN CONTRAST, THE OPTOS CAMERA CAN CAPTURE UP TO 80% OF THE RETINA IN ONE PHOTO, WITHOUT DILATING THE PUPIL.”

In contrast, the Optos camera can capture up to 80% of the retina in one photo, without dilating the pupil. Photos are quick, painless and do not cause any discomfort to the patient. A bonus for patients is that we dramatically cut the time they have to spend in the clinic as they don’t have to wait for the pupil-dilating eye drops to work.

Photos are immediately available so patients can see exactly what the doctor sees when examining the eye through a high-powered lens and provide objective documentation of clinical findings. The photos can be saved for future comparisons to help monitor the eye disease and effectiveness of treatment.

With this, patients are better able to learn about their eye condition and treatment options and to make informed decisions about their eye care.

“At $155,000 for the Optos camera system, we think it’s a great investment that will benefit the 10,000 people with retinal conditions that the hospital sees each year,” Mr Gardner said.

Every year Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation funds a number of honorary positions within the Sydney Eye Hospital. The Foundation pays the salary on the fellows for a period of 12 months while they work at the Sydney Eye Hospital. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of our many supporters.

If you are interested in becoming a Sydney Eye Hospital Fellow you can read about the available positions and application process on our Fellowships page.


Dr Steve Levasseur – Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Steve Levasseur – Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Steve Levasseur began his Fellowship in Vitreoretinal Surgery at the Sydney Eye Hospital after having completed his ophthalmology training in Vancouver, Canada.

He is very excited to have the opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the world leaders in the field of  vitreoretinal surgery.

After completing his fellowship, he plans to return to Canada to work as a consultant in a tertiary care centre.

Post update August 2018: Dr Steve Levasseur can now be found at http://www.retinabc.ca/


Dr Aida Mohd Zahidin – Corneal Fellow

Dr Aida Mohd Zahidin – Corneal Fellow

Aida completed her ophthalmology training in Malaysia.

She hopes that this fellowship will enable her to further polish her surgical skills and enhance her knowledge to provide good cornea and anterior segment services for the patients back home.

She looks forward to learning from other renowned experts in the field at Sydney Eye Hospital and will be returning back to Malaysia in July 2015 to work in a University Hospital in KL.


Dr David Dudok – Glaucoma Fellow

Dr David Dudok – Glaucoma Fellow

Dr David Dudok completed residency at the Ivey Eye Institute in London, Canada prior to arrival in Sydney.

He plans to return to Windsor, Canada after completing his Glaucoma Fellowship to practice as well as teach at the medical school.

His interests include medical education and comprehensive glaucoma management.

He believes the fellowship will give him a strong foundation in academic research and clinical and surgical glaucoma.

He is excited to spend a year learning in Sydney with his family and to avoid at least one Canadian winter.


Dr Yochai Shoshani – Oculoplastic Fellow

Dr Yochai Shoshani – Oculoplastic Fellow

Dr Yochai Shoshani started his Oculoplastic Fellowship at Sydney Eye Hospital in July 2014.

He is from Israel and did his ophthalmology training in Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

During his residency, he stayed 2 years in the United States, Indianapolis to complete several research projects as well as a one year observership with Drs William Nunery and Harold Lee.

His goal in this fellowship program is to improve his clinical and surgical skills in Oculoplastics as well as continue research.

Dr Shoshani looks forward to exploring Sydney and Australia in the upcoming year.


Dr Noam Yanculovich – Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Noam Yanculovich – Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Yanculovich joined the Vitreoretinal team in July 2014. He completed his residency in Israel in 2012, and two years of Vitreoretinal and Medical Retina at Soroka University Medical Center in Israel.

He hopes to enhance his clinical and surgical skills and hopes to conduct research into retinal surgery. At the end of his Fellowship he will go back to his country to work as Vitreoretinal Surgeon.


Dr Guillermo Fernandez Sanz – Dr Eddie Donaldson Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Guillermo Fernandez Sanz – Dr Eddie Donaldson Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Guillermo Fernandez Sanz started his Vitreoretinal Fellowship at Sydney Eye Hospital in July 2014.

He completed his ophthalmology training at Fundacion Jimenez Diaz University Hospital in Madrid (Spain). In 2012, he relocated to the UK to undertake a Medical Retina & Uveitis Fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital (London) and then a Vitreoretinal Fellowship at the Western Eye Hospital (London).

He is keen to further his clinical and surgical skills and to gain experience in the management of complex vitreoretinal diseases. On completion of his fellowship, he will return to Spain to resume his job at Fundacion Jimenez Diaz University Hospital.

 

Sight Saver Stephanie Watson Nominated for Award

Professor Stephanie Watson has dedicated her life’s work to preserving one of life’s most precious gifts: the gift of sight.

She saves and restores sight for many, and one extremely grateful patient is giving something back in her own way, nominating her for the Care and Compassion Medal in the Pride of Australia Awards 2014.

Professor Watson is an ophthalmic surgeon specialising in cataract, corneal and laser surgery at Sydney Eye Hospital’s new Bicentennial Eye Clinic. She has developed a new stem cell therapy technique.

“The cornea has a very unique architecture to ensure that it remains transparent,” Professor Watson explains.

“When that architecture is disrupted, such as in stem cell failure, it becomes hazy.”

The cornea is the transparent film that covers the front part of the eye, including the iris and pupil. When it gets hazy, it reduces vision, eventually causing blindness.

Professor Watson developed a technique to transfer healthy stem cells onto the cornea. The new stem cells re-populate the damaged area of the cornea so that abnormal tissue won’t grow back.

Sandy O’Brien, one of Professor Watson’s patients, is just one of many who are benefiting from this pioneering work, and to show her gratitude Sandy has nominated her for the prestigious award.

“Stephanie has saved my sight many times – without payment,” Sandy explains.

She has a condition called aniridia, which means that she has no irises in her eyes to control the size of her pupils, which in turn control the amount of light that reaches the retina. The condition requires corneal transplants and is complicated by stem cell failure, which causes abnormal tissue to re-grow.

“Stephanie has performed two corneal transplants on my right eye and one on my left in the past five years,” Sandy explains. “This brought me back from blindness.

It has been a battle to keep the sight but Stephanie has worked hard with stem cell therapy.

In April she gave me a new cornea in my left eye, as it was failing fast. I was using a white stick and had no hope of ever seeing again. But she worked her magic and gave me my sight back.

I now feel normal and able to walk around, get the bus and train and go shopping by myself, without a carer or stick.

No one knows I’m vision impaired as I’m so confident and can now see stairs and go up and down them.”

Professor Watson was invited to appear on the ABC’s New Inventors program in 2009 to share the new stem cell technique. She developed a method of growing corneal stem cells on a contact lens.

When the lens is fitted over the patient’s eye, the stem cells transfer to the cornea. The innovation won the episode and the People’s Choice Award.

Professor Watson was attracted to ophthalmology because of the real impact she could have on people’s lives.

“It struck me you could make a difference. You can change people’s lives, you can restore vision in people who can’t see,” she said.

She has a remarkable body of work behind her, establishing her exceptional talents early in her career.

She was awarded her PhD for developing a new dry eye therapy and wound healing model, and went on to complete clinical trials and publish dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals. She also holds an international patent for Therapeutic Ocular Surface Medium, a novel therapy for dry eye and corneal ulcer.

But it’s her direct work restoring sight for people of all ages that wins Professor Watson so many hearts. From the little boy whose eye was pecked by a magpie, to the woman with a detached retina caused by an accidental blow to the head, to the man whose sight was destroyed by acid in a workplace accident.

These are the real people and the real lives at the heart of Professor Watson’s brilliant career.

We look forward to updating you on her ground-breaking work in the future.

The idea of the clinic came at the time of the Bicentennial of Sydney Hospital in 2011. It was an opportunity for us to create a new space within the Hospital for a couple of highly specialised areas of ophthalmology – the corneal and retinal units.

The Eye Hospital deals with a range of different areas of ophthalmology which have become increasingly specialised in the last 10-20 years. In terms of the number of patients seen, the two busiest subspecialties are cornea and retina. These are also two highly technology-dependent areas of ophthalmology.

The Bicentennial Eye Clinic is a purpose-built facility specifically for those specialties, with brand new ‘state of the art’ equipment. It gives us the ability to do all the consultations, diagnostics and a lot of treatments in that one area. Obviously, there are still things we need to do in the operating theatre but there is a range of treatments which are able to be done in the Clinic.

Over the years, the Foundation has managed to provide more than $12,417,000 for the benefit of Sydney Eye Hospital, which in turn benefits many thousands of public patients attending the Hospital every year. With the help of our loyal supporters, we have assisted with the building of the new Eye Hospital in Macquarie Street, purchased state-of-the-art equipment and funded numerous research projects into the prevention of blindness.

Today, more than ever, with demand increasing and government funding always under pressure, your generous support is vital to ensuring that the Sydney Eye Hospital can continue to provide the excellent eye care that it has done for some 130 years.

Clinical Fellowships

  • Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellowship $49,504
  • Dr Eddie Donaldson Vitreoretinal Fellowship $50,233
  • Corneal Fellowship $48,313
  • Glaucoma Fellowship $45,903
  • Oculoplastic Fellowship $47,214
  • Professorial / Medical Retina Fellowship $90,824

Research

  • Keratoconus Research Project $95,000
  • MRI Linking Eyes to MS $37,248

Equipment

  • iPhone Pharmacopeia App $610
  • Corneal Unit – Collagen Cross Linking Device $23,625
  • Goldman Perimeter $2,000
  • Bicentennial Eye Clinic $1,194,086
  • Sydney Eye Hospital Outreach Clinic – OCT $66,554

Grants

  • Nurses Grant including Orthoptists $6,818
  • Eye Operations DVD Grant $864

Total

  • Total $1,758,796
Dr Emil Sjahreza – Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellow

Every year Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation funds a number of honorary positions within the Sydney Eye Hospital. The Foundation pays the salary on the fellows for a period of 12 months while they work at the Sydney Eye Hospital. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of our many supporters.

If you are interested in becoming a Sydney Eye Hospital Fellow you can read about the available positions and application process on our Fellowships page.


Dr Steven Schendel – Glaucoma Fellow

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Fellow: Dr Steven Schendel – Glaucoma Fellow
Dr. Steven Schendel completed his ophthalmology residency training in Vancouver, Canada in June of 2013.

He relocated to Sydney in late July to begin his glaucoma fellowship training. He hopes to conduct research into minimally invasive glaucoma surgery while at the Sydney Eye Hospital, and gain further experience in the management of clinical and surgical glaucoma.

He looks forward to exploring Sydney and Australia in the coming year.


Dr Abhishek Kumar – Dr Eddie Donaldson Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Abhishek Kumar – Dr Eddie Donaldson Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Abhishek Kumar joined the vitreoretinal team in July 2013.

He completed his residency in India and did 2 years vitreoretinal fellowship at Aravind Eye Hospital & PG Institute, Coimbatore.

His goal is to become a proficient vitreoretinal surgeon and he believes that Sydney Eye Hospital will provide him with excellent opportunities to learn the most advanced management protocols for different eye conditions.

After this fellowship he aspires to provide vitreoretinal services to the rural population of India.


Dr U-Teng Chan – Corneal Fellow

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Fellow: Dr U-Teng Chan – Corneal Fellow
Dr U-Teng Chan is from Malaysia and she hopes to learn and enhance her clinical and surgical skills in Cornea at Sydney Eye Hospital and will return to Malaysia in June 2014 to continue working in the Corneal Unit.


Dr Farhan Qureshi – Oculoplastic Fellow

Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Fellow: Dr Farhan Qureshi – Oculoplastic Fellow

Dr Farhan Qureshi started as the Oculoplastic Fellow in the Sydney Eye Hospital in July 2013.

He is from the UK and did his ophthalmology training in Liverpool after which he went on to an Oculoplastic Fellowship in Manchester.

He is keen to experience healthcare in Australia and further his skills particularly in endonasal surgery whilst here.

He will be returning to the UK to begin as Consultant Oculoplastic Surgeon in Wigan after his time here.


Dr Emil Sjahreza – Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellow

Dr Emil Sjahreza – Graham Lovett Vitreoretinal Fellow
Coming from Indonesia, Dr Emil Sjahreza started his Vitreoretinal Fellowship at Sydney Eye Hospital in January 2013.

His goal in this fellowship program is to gain as much skills and knowledge as possible from various consultants in the hospital.

He will go back to his country to work as vitreoretina surgeon in Klinik Mata Nusantara, Jakarta.


Dr Gustavo Reis – Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Fellow

Dr Gustavo Reis – Current Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation Fellow
Dr Gustavo Reis completed his specialist registrar training in Brazil at the Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital. He has also done a round year as a Glaucoma and Cataract Fellow with Prof. Felicio Silva, a recognised Glaucoma specialist in Brazil.

Dr Reis expects to enhance his studies from the qualifi ed staff attached to the Glaucoma Unit of the Sydney Eye Hospital, improve his clinical and surgical skills and carry out some useful research and development. When not in surgery, Dr Reis supervises in the Outpatients Department providing patient care that has helped him to achieve a better knowledge of eye disease diagnoses and patient management.

Over the years, the Foundation has managed to provide more than $9 million for the benefit of Sydney Eye Hospital, which in turn benefits many thousands of public patients attending the hospital every year.

With the help of our loyal supporters, we have assisted with the building of the new Eye Hospital in Macquarie Street, purchased state-of-the-art equipment and funded numerous research projects into the prevention of blindness.

Today, more than ever, with demand increasing and government funding always under pressure, your generous support is vital to ensuring that the Sydney Eye Hospital can continue to provide the excellent eye care that it has done for some 130 years.

To read a detailed breakdown of how the money was spent in 2012, see the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation’s September 2013 Newsletter.