26 November, 2021
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Healthcare Through a New Lens: Vision-Saving Surgery Launches In Ipswich

Ipswich eye patients suffering from retinal and macular diseases will no longer have to travel to Brisbane for specialist retinal care and vitreoretinal surgery, thanks to the launch of a brand-new service that has recently opened in Ipswich.

Cura Day Hospitals Group CEO, Andrew Currie, says the launch of the new service at Ipswich Day Hospital, which is the first in the area to offer patients access to the vision-saving macular surgery and vitrectomy, will revolutionise healthcare for patients in regional Ipswich and remote areas.

“It’s been a great privilege for the team at the Ipswich Day Hospital to be the first private hospital in the region to launch the vision-saving technology,” Mr Currie says, noting that the closest hospital previously to offer the surgery is over 30 kilometres away.

“Cura Day Hospitals Group is constantly looking for ways to improve care and outcomes for patients, and with increased lockdowns and the uncertainty of the pandemic, immediate access to this type of healthcare is vital.”

Retinal Surgeon and Macular Disease specialist Dr Tom Moloney, who spent part of his medical training at the Ipswich Hospital and is familiar with the area, said that until now, patients have had to travel to Brisbane to see their nearest retinal specialists, which could be challenging for those experiencing vision issues. He said that as a result of the travel required, some patients have had no option but to leave their conditions untreated.

He added that depending on the specific condition, patients suffering from retinal and macular diseases can find their vision is significantly impacted, meaning it can be difficult, or even impossible, for sufferers to drive, read or stay independent.

“Providing this care to the community locally and reducing the need for travel will help patients to maintain their independence,” Dr Moloney said.

“The symptoms of retinal diseases can present in different ways. For instance, people with macular degeneration may not have many symptoms at all. Or they might find that their vision is becoming distorted, with wavy lines or blurriness.”

While there’s usually no eye pain or discomfort for patients, macular degeneration, if left untreated, can lead to partial or total vision loss.

“In terms of macular degeneration, we have an aging population which means there’s an increasing need for treatment – usually with eye injections. We wanted to be able to offer that treatment, along with subspecialist retinal care, to the Ipswich community,” he said.

Vitreoretinal surgery is generally performed under local anaesthetic with twilight sedation and can take between 45 minutes and two hours.

“We’re very fortunate that Cura Day Hospitals Group and Ipswich Day Hospital have invested in a lot of equipment so that we can provide the surgery locally.”

Dr Moloney said that, in most cases, patients can go home without requiring overnight hospitalisation. Patients then meet with Dr Moloney for a follow up visit the day after surgery.

David Hines, the first patient to receive the vision-saving vitrectomy locally in Ipswich said the procedure saved his vision.

“I was absolutely terrified going into the surgery but after a very successful, 40-minute surgery thanks to Dr Moloney and the brilliant surgical team, I was able to return home,” David said.

“The thought of losing your eyesight is horrifying – access to the surgery right here in Ipswich meant that I didn’t need to wait up to eight weeks for a specialist appointment.

“I can’t thank Dr Moloney enough and I feel so privileged to be part of such an innovative new procedure,” he said.

People who may be concerned about their vision can see their local GP or Optometrist for a check-up and ask to be referred to either Dr Moloney or Dr Apel at the Eye Health Centre located in Booval. Any retinal surgery needed will be performed at the Ipswich Day Hospital. Contact - The Eye Health Centre.

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