Scan­ner catches eye prob­lems

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK Con­sis­tent Cen­tral Otago de­mand for OCT scans

A state-of-the-art $75,000 eye scan­ning ma­chine in Wanaka, should catch eye com­plaints ear­lier and take some pres­sure off pa­tients who must travel out of town for di­ag­no­sis.

Op­tometrist Danielle Ross bought the $75,000 Oc­u­lar Co­her­ence To­mog­ra­phy scan­ner, for her Eyes on Ard­more premises and said she was dis­cussing shar­ing it with fel­low Wanaka op­tometrist Tui Homer of Cen­tral Vi­sion.

It is the only OCT ma­chine in the Queen­stown Lakes dis­trict and apart from catch­ing eye dis­eases ear­lier, Ross hopes her in­vest­ment will open up pos­si­bil­i­ties for spe­cial­ists to pro­vide out­pa­tient ser­vices in Wanaka in the fu­ture.

Dunedin reti­nal sur­geon Harry Bradshaw re­acted pos­i­tively to Wanaka’s OCT ma­chine. It should catch vi­sion dis­or­ders ear­lier, par­tic­u­larly mac­u­lar holes.

Bradshaw said it should also re­move some of the bar­ri­ers of trav­el­ling to Dunedin or Christchurch for di­ag­no­sis and al­low some pa­tients to be mon­i­tored in Wanaka with images be­ing for­warded to him in Dunedin.

While the present struc­ture of South­ern Dis­trict Health Board eye health ser­vices means it is un­likely spe­cial­ists would be pro­vid­ing Wanaka clin­ics in the short term, there was scope for cer­tain types of pri­vate clin­ics in the fu­ture, Bradshaw said.

‘‘Some of my pa­tients who have mild reti­nal prob­lems may be able to be mon­i­tored in Wanaka, with the OCT images for­warded to me. There may be scope pri­vately to of­fer in­trav­it­real Avastin for agere­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion pa­tients in the fu­ture at the [Wanaka Lakes Health Cen­tre].

‘‘How­ever, this would still re­quire clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion with a slit lamp and di­lated fun­dal ex­am­i­na­tion, as well as the OCT, so some work needs to be done lo­gis­ti­cally to make this a re­al­ity,’’ he said.

Bradshaw said he was not able to travel to Wanaka ‘‘at this stage’’, as the eye clinic is not staffed to sup­port the lost clinic time in travel and the con­sid­er­able equip­ment de­mand.

It was dif­fi­cult to see how the health board could struc­ture the fund­ing for pa­tients get­ting an OCT and it wouldn’t be prac­ti­cal to use Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal, which also did not have any eye equip­ment and would need to in­vest at least $60,000 in equip­ment, he said.

Ross said her busi­ness was the only one in the dis­trict of­fer­ing the ad­vanced preven­ta­tive ex­am­i­na­tions (scans cost $170) and she was keen to con­tinue talk­ing with Dunedin spe­cial­ists about out­pa­tient clin­ics in Wanaka. The OCT ma­chine op­er­ates in much the same way as an ul­tra­sound ma­chine, us­ing light as op­posed to sound, she said. Op­tometrists can see much deeper into the eye than was pre­vi­ously pos­si­ble with a reti­nal pho­to­graph.

Pre­ventable dis­eases such as mac­ula de­gen­er­a­tion, glau­coma, reti­nal de­tach­ment and ker­a­to­conus, all of which can lead to blind­ness, could be picked up years ear­lier.

Prob­lems could then be treated be­fore they de­vel­oped into se­ri­ous eye­sight is­sues, she said.

Di­ag­no­sis with OCT is stan­dard in other parts of the world but it is rel­a­tively new to New Zealand, with only a hand­ful of op­tometrists in the South Is­land us­ing the equip­ment.

Bradshaw said many pa­tients came to Dunedin from Cen­tral Otago, and par­tic­u­larly Wanaka.

‘‘I would see 10-15 per week. How­ever the num­ber who come through in to­tal to the eye clinic would be much higher – 20-30 per week I would guess.

‘‘The ma­jor­ity of th­ese are el­derly pa­tients with age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion who re­quire OCT scan­ning, clin­i­cal re­view and of­ten in­trav­it­real in­jec­tions of Avastin.’’

Wanaka op­tometrist Danielle Ross scans the eye of Linda Spove on her new Oc­u­lar Co­her­ence To­mog­ra­phy ma­chine.

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