Innovative eye treatment now undertaken by local hospitals’ orthoptists

A pair of eye care experts at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have finished a yearlong education programme, which qualifies them to perform a specialist and innovative procedure locally.

Hayley Head and Ian Dawson are registered Orthoptists at the Trust, responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with ocular problems. In December 2019, they embarked on a further training course that covered a wide range of subjects, including eye anatomy, infection prevention control, and pharmacology.

As a result of completing the programme, they can now administer Intravitreal Therapy (IVT). A delicate and highly complex operation, an IVT is used when an accumulation of fluid is building up at the rear of the eye, potentially damaging their vision. In such instances, a drug is injected into the sclera (the white part of the eye), usually by a doctor or nurse.

However, now that Hayley and Ian have the necessary expertise, they too are qualified to carry out this complicated procedure. The intensive programme equipped them with all the relevant skills needed, by having them observe IVT clinics, helping out with preparation, practicing the delivery of injections and, eventually, doing  the whole thing themselves under supervision.

Speaking about this development, Ian, who is also Head of Orthoptics at the Trust, explains: ‘’DBTH is now one of only a handful of trusts in the country to have trained Orthoptists performing IVTs. This is very exciting news, as it means that our doctors and nurses – who would normally do the procedure – no longer have to be called upon every time it is required.  This is a fantastic achievement for the Trust, and provides greater efficiency in our work, I am particularly proud that we were able to do it in the midst of such a challenging year.”

Meanwhile, speaking of her own experience, Hayley said: ‘’I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to expand my practice into this continually growing service. The in-house training has been fantastic and I felt truly supported throughout. Working with eyes is something I’ve always done day to day, but I have learned a valuable new skill in IVT that I am really enjoying and am keen to encourage more trusts to follow this same route.’’

Echoing Hayley’s sentiments, Ian concludes: ‘’Becoming involved in the IVT service has been a fantastic opportunity for personal development and responsibility. It is a completely new skill that I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and am proud to be able to lead the way for our profession in becoming involved in extended roles within Ophthalmology.’’

Since completing their qualification, the duo have conducted more than 1,000 intravitreal therapies with patients.