Clinical service, research and education
The Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) is a not-for-profit joint initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and University of New South Wales. Set up as a referral centre for patients suspected of having complex chronic ocular disease, it is equipped with a comprehensive array of the latest ophthalmic equipment and operates out of two locations: UNSW at Kensington and Parramatta (The Cameron Centre).
CFEH provides advanced ocular imaging, diagnostic services and management for a range of non-urgent eye conditions at no cost to patients. Targeting the leading causes of vision loss: Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy, CFEH has an extensive network of referrers (primarily community optometrist), attracted by the thorough patient assessments and comprehensive patient reports (incorporating ophthalmology oversight through Prince of Wales Hospital as needed). In the 2020/21 financial year, over 13,000 patient appointments were undertaken across the two sites with over 14,000 referrals.
All patients have a detailed report and images sent securely through electronic communication platforms back to the referring practitioner with copies to GPs and associated health care providers as appropriate. Reports and images are also posted to the patients My Health record (where they have opted in), to ensure that care can be continuous with any practitioner and from any location if needed. In addition, working closely with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT client services, CFEH provides a comprehensive low vision service at the Cameron Centre.
As well as working with referring community optometrists and ophthalmologists, CFEH collaborates with Prince of Wales and Westmead (Community-Eye-Care program) hospitals eye clinics to provide a triage and discharge service to free up valuable public resources and to ensure timely access to eye care.
A recent independent review by PriceWaterhouseCoopers of CFEH’s most recent 8 years showed that CFEH prevented 10,300 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY). Since one DALY represents a year lived with FULL disability, preventing 10,300 years of full disability is equivalent to preventing 39,100 years lived with low vision or 17,200 years lived with blindness. By preventing disability, CFEH has saved NSW over 150 Million dollars since 2009.
CFEH’s approach of early eye disease detection has reduced preventable vision loss. Clinical activity at CFEH is informed and supported by a team of clinical researchers (see below) and education programmes. The education programmes target both undergraduate and postgraduate students through UNSW Sydney as well as optometric continuing education both throughout Australia and overseas.
Information on how to refer a patient and specific information relating to clinical service, research and education can be found under the respective tabs on our website. Further information on the CFEH staff (many of whom have been authors of the popular Macula Matters Case study series) is also available online here.
The research arm of CFEH ultimately aims to cure preventable blindness by developing new methods of detecting ocular disease earlier and to evolve and evaluate novel collaborative care pathways. Some key projects currently ongoing at the Centre include:
Core programs commenced Q1-Q2 2021, relevant to the macular disease space:
- Attitudes and Barriers to Care in Age-related Macular Degeneration: The ABCs of AMD. Led by Dr Angelica Ly, this research program focusses on patient empowerment and will comprehensively investigate attitudes and barriers to care-seeking behaviour in people with age-related macular degeneration. A novel Health Literacy Intervention will be developed to improve knowledge and confidence to empower people to actively seek appropriate care. The Health Literacy Intervention will be implemented at CFEH and assessed using a formal comparative effectiveness evaluation.
- The efficacy and implementation of primary care clinical decision support tools in retinal disease. Led by Dr Angelica Ly, this research program in implementation science will investigate the implementation and value of providing optometrists with various primary point-of-care clinical decision support strategies in retinal disease, including Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning driven diagnostic and referral analytics and decision support tools.
- Vision-related quality of life in patients with early age-related macular degeneration. Led by Dr. Lisa Nivison-Smith, this research program in health-outcomes assessment aims to understand the health burden of age-related macular degeneration and how it relates to retinal pathology. An understanding of these important relationships will help eye-health professionals identify patients with AMD earlier and provide better high-level care.
- Towards cost-effective care for preventing disability from progressive vision loss. Led by A/Prof Gordon S. Doig, this research program in economic assessment will investigate the economic benefits arising from the timely delivery of interventions such as early detection, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies to reduce disability from progressive vision loss. Increased understanding of these care related costs will help identify and promote efficient and effective models of health delivery.
- Improving early detection through innovative diagnostic techniques. Led by Professor Kalloniatis, this research program in technological innovation and early detection aims to develop, evaluate, and implement new diagnostic techniques that will allow community clinicians to more accurately identify patients who would benefit from early referral to CFEH. Improved accuracy of referrals will help CFEH preserve sight and reduce disability throughout NSW/ACT whilst also reducing costs of care.
Posted: 26 August 2021