NZ eye specialist Elected President of RANZCO
Posted by Fleur Revell
Dr Stephen Best from Auckland Eye elected as current President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
A Kiwi eye specialist has been elected as the current President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, a position historically held by Australians.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) is a professional association which brings together eye specialists across New Zealand and Australia for continued training, education, research and advocacy.
Dr Stephen Best from Auckland Eye says he is honoured to be elected President of RANZCO, and sees it as part of the ongoing professional contribution to the future of eye care in both countries during his term.
Dr Best says in New Zealand, there are several urgent issues that will come to a head in the next few years as we face the harsh realities of an ageing population. “It is natural for human eyesight to deteriorate with age, so it’s important that people are aware of getting regular eye check-ups. Most adults first start noticing blurred reading vision in their mid forties this is often the first time they have had an eye test which could pick up potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma.
“With increasing age cataract and macular degeneration can cause symptoms of vision loss that prompt a visit to an eye care professional; it’s important to get beyond the Kiwi attitude of ‘she’ll be right mate,’ and make an appointment,” says Dr Best.
In both New Zealand and Australia one of the most pressing issues is making sure we have sufficient eye care professionals to look after people with eye problems.
Health Work Force New Zealand is very keen to see ophthalmology and optometry work together collaboratively to form ‘eye care teams’, to ensure accessibility and affordability of care in a timely fashion for all patients across New Zealand says Dr Best.
One of the current developments which is likely to be useful for rural and remote areas is tele-ophthalmology; where images of both the front and back of the eye can be captured digitally and then sent via the net for expert opinion and decision making.
“We have been doing this for some time by photographing the retina of diabetic patients to diagnose a potentially sight threatening condition termed diabetic retinopathy and with early diagnosis and treatment vision can be saved for these patients,” says Dr Best.
Dr Best says there are many small rural communities where people cannot easily access the services of an eye specialist, which could be problematic for patients with serious diseases who need regular, ongoing management.
“We now have the technology available for local optometrists and GP’s within remote areas to consult eye specialists living in one of the larger cities and receive diagnoses and recommendations through a combination of email, Skype and phone,” says Dr Best. One of the key areas Dr Best would like to continue exploring, through both RANZCO and specialist clinics like Auckland Eye, is how best to continue the provision of ophthalmology services to the Pacific Islands and South