Thank a sight-saving hero, thank an Ophthalmologist
7th August 2023
By Emma Crowley
A staggering 9 in 10 Australians report that ‘sight’ is their most valued sense, but few know the crucial role Ophthalmologists play in eye health.
The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) is hoping to change this by increasing awareness this — and every — World Ophthalmologist Day.
Also known as Ophthalmologist Day or International Ophthalmology Day, it is an unofficial professional day of celebration for all specialists in medical and surgical eye disease that is marked annually on August 8.
ASO Chief Executive Officer, Kerry Gallagher, said while it is currently a lesser-known date on the Aussie calendar, he hopes this will soon change.
“As many as 1,100 Ophthalmologists are working around the country right now restoring sight to everyday Australians and improving our quality of life,” he said.
“Sadly though, few people know the difference between the scope of practice of an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist.
“An Ophthalmologist has the highest level of medical training in the eye health sector and is not only a specialist eye doctor, but they are also eye surgeons,” Mr Gallagher said.
In fact, Ophthalmologists will soon be among a small cohort of just three medical specialities who are legislated to use the title of ‘surgeon’ in Australia.
Mr Gallagher said while Optometrists can conduct annual or regular eye tests, patients with known eye conditions should be seeing an Ophthalmologist for management.
“More than half of all Australians self-reported having one or more chronic eye conditions in 2017–2018, and this includes for common conditions such as Glaucoma, Cataract, Macular Degeneration, and Diabetic Retinopathy,” Mr Gallagher said.
“Undetected or unmanaged, these conditions can lead to vision loss or blindness — and in Australia, around 90 per cent of all cases of blindness are preventable with appropriate medical care.”
“We can address the significant rates of preventable blindness by increasing public health literacy around the importance of eye health and the roles of different eye health professionals.
“This includes starting with the basic step of getting all Australians to commit to an annual eye check.”
You can show your support for the campaign by sharing your stories and photos with the hashtag — #ThankanOphthalmologist — or downloading and using the ASO’s promotional materials.
Find out more about World Ophthalmologist Day and the ASO’s ‘Thank an Ophthalmologist’ campaign by visiting www.asoeye.org/world-ophthalmologist-day
What does an Ophthalmologist do?
An Ophthalmologist is an eye doctor and surgeon who specialises in diagnosing and managing disorders of the eye and visual system.
In simple terms? They save the gift of sight!
How many sight-saving heroes are out there?
There are currently almost 1,100 registered Ophthalmologists in Australia.
While the practice of Ophthalmology is an extremely expensive medical specialist practice, it remains a highly competitive medical speciality.
This is good, in that it means patients continue to be guaranteed the highest quality ophthalmic care across Australia and New Zealand.
Why are eye surgeons the ultimate authority on eye health?
Ophthalmology requires a minimum of 12 years of tertiary study, first attaining a medical degree, completing internship and residency as a doctor, and then undertaking further specialist study as an Ophthalmologist.
There are some conditions only their specialist-trained eye can see!
Meet several Australian Ophthalmologists
Dr Liana Dedina is an up-and-coming Ophthalmologist in training.
After completing her undergraduate studies and starting her medical career in Queensland, Liana now lives and works in Adelaide, SA and is three years into her Ophthalmology training.
This week, Liana commenced work in Paediatric Ophthalmology at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital — a privileged experience she is looking forward to!
As she progresses in her training, Liana hopes to gain more exposure in neuro-ophthalmology, uveitis, and medical retina.
The Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery recently accepted her co-authored paper: “Focus on reuse: reducing waste associated with topical pre-operative antiseptics”.
Earlier this year, Liana also featured on the cover of our ASO Members’ Bulletin magazine talking about the ways we can be more sustainable in Ophthalmology.
Dr Lukas Sahhar is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.
He is a General Ophthalmologist who specialises in Cataract and Refractive surgery.
Growing up in the country Victorian town of Warragul, Lukas has returned to work there as a specialist eye surgeon.
He also works in Melbourne in both private and public hospitals where he is involved in teaching trainee ophthalmologists.
Dr Claire Hooper is a New South Wales Ophthalmologist who specialises in medical retina and uveitis.
Claire graduated from the University of Melbourne and undertook her ophthalmology training at Sydney Eye Hospital. She was awarded a travel scholarship and undertook a further two years of medical retina and uveitis specialist training at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
Claire has been involved in clinical trials for macular degeneration, published several articles in peer-reviewed journals, and co-written three book chapters. She is also a reviewer for several journals, including Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, Acta Ophthalmologica, Ocular Immunology and Inflammation, and the European Journal of Ophthalmology.
Aside from her work in private practice, Dr Hooper is a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Sydney and part of the Save Sight Institute.
Dr Rahul Chakrabarti is a Victorian-based Ophthalmologist and wearer of many hats.
Rahul works as a Consultant Ophthalmologist from the Essendon Eye Clinic and Mildura Eye Specialists, in addition to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Alfred Hospital, is the Director of Training for RANZCO in Victoria, and is a Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne and Monash University respectively.
If this wasn’t enough, Rahul continues his passion for surgical education through GENEYE, a group of individuals who aspire to learn in new and different ways.
As a 30-year member of the Adelaide Crows Football Club, and the Club Ophthalmologist since 2022, we hope the AFL gives him a special shoutout.
Dr Diana Farlow practices General Ophthalmology and has a special interest in ocular surface disorders, such as dry eyes and allergic eye disease.
Diana graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery with First Class Honours. She also has a Bachelor of Science (Medical) with Distinction, in which she completed a Thesis in Neurophysiology.
Diana underwent her ophthalmology training with Professor Fred Hollows at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney and was awarded the Diploma of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) in 1993.
With experience in both the public and private hospital systems, Diana worked briefly as a Staff Specialist at the Prince of Wales Hospital before entering private practice.
Diana was on the Board of the Centre for Eye Health from 2012–2022, Chair of the RANZCO NSW Branch Committee from 2019–2021, and is a current Expert Advisor to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.
Dr Matthew Cranstoun is a second-generation Ophthalmologist with specialisation in Oculoplastics and General Ophthalmology, including eyelid disease, orbital and lacrimal disease, anterior segment oncology, cataract, glaucoma, and medical retina.
In 2018–2019, Matthew was awarded a prestigious fellowship with the Terrace Eye Centre’s Professor Timothy Sullivan in oculoplastics, lacrimal and orbital disease. This world-renowned fellowship included clinical positions at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Queensland Children’s Hospital and involved management of complex adult and paediatric conditions under the guidance of Professor Sullivan.
Matthew is actively involved in research and evidenced-based care. Together with Professor Sullivan, he was awarded the Dermot Roden prize for the best oculoplastics paper presented at the 2018 annual RANZCO scientific meeting. His passion for evidenced-based care is demonstrated in his ongoing commitment to research and audit.
Matthew is involved in teaching the next generation of Ophthalmology Registrars and also finds time to work alongside his father, Dr Peter Cranstoun, at the Pine Rivers Eye Centre in the Moreton Bay region.
His teaching influence continues as an Associate Lecturer with the University of Queensland Medical School.
He sits on the Expert Advisory Committee of Glaucoma Australia, and soon you’ll see why.
Dr Ilesh Patel specialises in glaucoma and cataract surgery, including being an expert in the medical and surgical management of glaucoma.
He graduated from medical school at the University of New South Wales before undertaking his Ophthalmology training in Adelaide at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre.
Ilesh completed a Masters in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, USA focussing on epidemiology and preventative Ophthalmology. His research at Johns Hopkins concentrated on blindness prevention in rural Africa and Nepal.
Ilesh also has fellowships from the Wilmer Eye Institute at John Hopkins Hospital, USA and Royal Manchester Eye Hospital, UK.
Website: ASO World Ophthalmologist Day