“Orthoptists Can Find a New Way to See” by Tracy Thomson an Orthoptist in NHS Tayside.

Who I am:

I am Tracy Thomson, an Orthoptist in NHS Tayside. I have been in an orthoptist for 18 years and in Tayside for 12.

What we do:

“Orthoptists are the experts in diagnosing and treating defects in eye movement and problems with how the eyes work together, called binocular vision” https://www.orthoptics.org.uk/patients-and-public/what-is-an-orthoptist/

Orthoptists manage children with lazy eye (amblyopia) and the treatment for this is time sensitive. We help people of all ages with visual symptoms such as double vision. We are a hospital based service.

How things changed:

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic all non-emergency orthoptic outpatients were cancelled and many orthoptists were redeployed.

As time passed we were allowed urgent patients into clinics again. Tayside orthoptists realised many of the patients requiring a routine review were now needing urgent appointments due the treatments they were on. Patients were still being referred to the department with new visual difficulties. Our waiting list was growing. We needed a solution!

What did we do about it?

Prior to COVID, in December 2019, Tayside Orthoptics piloted a select few patients to have Near Me virtual appointments. The trial went well, but it was on a very small scale. Fast forward to 2020 and we decided to utilise the Near Me video appointment system for some of our patients who were waiting to be seen. This included:

  • New paediatric patients
  • Children who had been given glasses for the first time
  • Patients who were given orthoptic exercises
  • Patients given coloured overlays

The use of review telephone appointments for some patient groups also grew. Patients included:

  • Those diagnosed with sudden onset double vision
  • Stroke patients with hemianopia, loss of vision to one side

Where will we go from here?

The use of Near Me will remain part of the Tayside Orthoptic department appointments going forward.

We will actively consider which patients can be seen virtually and watch for technological advances which will help us see more. Our hope is that as technology improves we can check vision using Near Me technology and this will allow easier access for remote and rural Tayside patients.

See the video highlighting how Tayside Orthoptic department use near me in practice  https://youtu.be/snIaeiAAtsM


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