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Tokoroa Diabetic Retinopathy Screenings

Tokoroa in autumn

The Waikato District Health Board and Paterson Burn Optometrists have begun a one year trial initiative in Tokoroa to provide screening for diabetes-related retinal (eye) disease by community based optometrists.

The intent of the initiative is to provide more convenience and greater service accessibility to the Tokoroa community, as the service will be located in the centre of town.

Normally, retinal screening is done by taking a photograph of the retina of the eye by a WDHB mobile service.  The photographs are then later reviewed by an optometrist at the Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic.  In the past, if photographs were not adequate (for example, not clear enough because of cataracts), then the patient would need an examination by the Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic optometrist in Hamilton.

With this initiative, Paterson Burn Optometry in Tokoroa will be able to do the retinal photographs, evaluate them, and do further optometry evaluation if the retinal photographs are not adequate, all on the same day.

“Paterson Burn will have an Optometrist on-site at the screenings, who will be able to conduct a more detailed examination if required.  It also means that clients will know immediately about the state of their eye health and diabetes condition,” says Darren Savage, CEO of Paterson Burn Optometrists.

Justina Wu, from the Waikato District Health Board diabetes service, said: “This will provide more timely and convenient service to people with diabetes in the Tokoroa area as there will no longer be a time delay to getting an optometry evaluation if one is required and they would not have to travel to Waikato Hospital for the evaluation.”

The partnership with Paterson Burn is expected to have flow-on efficiencies for the Waikato DHB, with fewer referrals of patients to the Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic optometrists as they would now be seen in Tokoroa in a timely fashion.  If people do have retinal disease that requires treatment, this will still occur at the Waikato Hospital Eye Clinic.

The screening service has been established for the early detection of Diabetic Retinopathy, which is one of the most common causes of sight loss among people of working age. Progression of diabetic retinopathy can be halted and blindness avoided if the retinopathy is detected early and treated.

“Diabetic retinopathy affects about 35 per cent of adults with diabetes and 10 per cent will have vision threatening retinopathy. It can be hard for people to know that they have it as symptoms may not be obvious until the condition is in its advanced stages,” says David Burn, optometrist and Partner of Paterson Burn Optometrists, “and for this reason we encourage regular eye checks for people with diabetes.”

Paterson Burn Optometrists is located on the corner of Bridge St and Leith Place and has been operating in Tokoroa since 1949.

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