Saving Sight During a Pandemic

04 Apr 2020

Ophthalmologists are typically only several inches away from patients during eye examination: this is thought to place them at a higher risk of catching illnesses such as COVID-19 from patients than most other specialists.

However, the current pandemic has not stopped the flow of emergency presentations to Sydney Eye Hospital, and the team remains committed to saving sight. Minimising the risks to both patients, their families and medical staff has been a key focus.

Thanks to donors of the Foundation, Dr Emily Shao (pictured) a current vitreoretinal surgical fellow commenced a Fellowship with Sydney Eye Hospital in July 2019. Emily is one of many, working on the frontline during the Corona Virus pandemic.

“My training at Sydney Eye Hospital has been excellent and it has been a privilege to train under a group of such experienced and dedicated consultants, learning to manage a wide range of cases,” Emily said.

Reducing the risks are of paramount importance to control the spread of the virus. Measures taken include enforcing the recommended distances required (greater than 1.5m), vigilance with handwashing, the meticulous cleaning of clinical surfaces and the implementation of new protective Perspex shields for slit-lamp microscopes.

Finally, clinic appointments and surgery are currently reserved for urgent cases only. This minimises the risk of exposure and saves precious resources (such as facemasks) during the pandemic.

Dr Shao, originally from the United Kingdom, continues to see urgent cases and perform urgent sight-saving surgery.

“The current environment has by no means reduced the amount of urgent work or indeed training opportunities, we are still so busy! But it has meant deferring more routine follow-ups and surgery for the safety of both patients and staff.

“The protective shields on slit lamps are a help and I am being ever more vigilant in hand washing and giving the slit lamp and thorough wipe down between each patient,” Emily said.

Dr Emily Shao Vitreoretinal Surgical Fellow

Supporting our community

Thank you to every health care worker and medical professional giving everything right now.

We are extremely grateful to all on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.