Patients keep an eye on fast new machines

Patients cover one eye and keep the other focused directly ahead while looking for ‘stars’ or bright spots in their peripheral vision.

Eye tests are being done in a fraction of the time thanks to two shiny new visual field machines in Westmead Eye Clinic.

The machines test your peripheral vision and identify blind spots, which is the “bread and butter” of ophthalmology screening according to clinic manager Michael Cosstick.

“The tests now take just two minutes for each eye rather than six minutes, which is a significant improvement and obviously a lot more comfortable for the patients,” Michael said.

“We do thousands of these tests every year so those few minutes add up to a lot of time saved.”

Westmead Eye Clinic manager Michael Cosstick demonstrates one of the new visual field test machines with patient Fadi Remaili.

The two older devices were recently retired after 14 years of faithful service and roughly 90,000 procedures between them.

They’re used for glaucoma patients, driver’s licence vision tests, and neurology patients including people being treated for stroke and tumours.

“High pressure around the brain can cause optic nerve swelling and effect vision,” Michael explained.

“This test allows us to easily and accurately track how someone’s vision has improved or deteriorated over time. For patients in the acute stage of treatment it can be a daily test so it’s great that we’ve been able to make it much more comfortable for them.”

While the new devices have already improved workflow, Michael is now aiming to further streamline the process by having the results automatically upload into patients’ electronic medical records, eliminating the need for printing and scanning documents.

“We’re a busy outpatient clinic seeing 30,000 patients a year so we’re always looking for ways to save people’s time and improve our service,” Michael said.