World Glaucoma Week stresses early detection

A/Prof Andrew White visual field testing during Cambodia visit

In 2017, Westmead Hospital’s ophthalmology department saw 3,328 patients through the outpatient glaucoma clinics, with 144 patients requiring surgery or laser treatment.

Department head of ophthalmology clinical associate/Prof Andrew White said Westmead Hospital provides the only public hospital clinic in western Sydney.

“One of the big challenges in eye care, particularly in western Sydney, is the capacity for people that need monitoring for eye diseases but not necessarily treatment.

“The whole eye clinic has 25 consultant ophthalmologists and sees up to 30,000 patients a year. Within the region we know that there’s approximately 14,000 people with glaucoma.”

“It is not possible for us to see them all, but we have devised a system so these people can be safely monitored in the community and only have to come to the hospital when really needed,” A/Prof White said.

The system, which is run through the Community Eye Care ‘C-EYE-C clinic’, 450 patients were assessed for glaucoma in Parramatta and Blacktown.

The team from Westmead Hospital’s eye clinic celebrated World Glaucoma Week with a Beat Invisible Glaucoma (B.I.G) breakfast. Left to right: Orthoptist Michael Cosstick, nursing unit manager Lai Bergan, orthoptist Aida Zeric, practice manager Jackie van der Hout, glaucoma fellow Karen Tiuseco, head of department A/Prof Andrew White, registrar Ebony Smith, orthoptist Kim Khuu, registrar Daniel Narayan, glaucoma research assistant Najm Choudhry. Seated: Service coordinator Belinda Ford, senior resident medical officer Samantha Bobba, admin officer Kristy Woodfield.
Administrative practice manager Jackie van de Hout

A/Prof White has a strong interest in the management of glaucoma, so he recently visited Cambodia to train specialists through the Sight For All organisation.

Prof White volunteered his time and expertise with Sight For All to intensively train the doctors over a 24-month period since 2015.

Until his fellowship, there were no trained glaucoma specialists in the country. Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness in Cambodia.

Dr Ny Tharath, a/Prof Andrew White and Dr Sophal Heng in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A/Prof White also has research affiliations with the University of Sydney where he runs a laboratory developing new treatments for glaucoma. He has been a Sight For All Visionary since 2013 where he has travelled to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam supervising the in-country Glaucoma Fellowships.

It is estimated that 300,000 Australians are living with glaucoma, but up to 50% don’t know they have the disease and may suffer preventable but irreversible blindness. This tragic fact provides an incentive for everyone to spread the message, particularly to frelatives who have a 1 in 4 risk of developing the disease over their lifetime.

Together we can highlight the importance of early detection, treatment and support to prevent and minimise the impact of Glaucoma blindness.

Everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, learn more and assess your risk here

A test for glaucoma can be completed by an eye health provider. Visit your local optometrist or ophthalmologist.

See what’s happening during World Glaucoma Week on their FaceBook page or Twitter

To read more on glaucoma, visit the Glaucoma Australia website.