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Patient contributes vital testing equipment

February 14, 2013

Patient contributes vital testing equipment From left, Dr Lionel Kowal, Orthoptist Stephanie Tsonis and Executive Director David Lau with one of the new Visual Acuity Assessment screens
Equipment donated recently to the Eye and Ear's Ocular Motility Clinic will allow staff to detect paediatric eye conditions with a single unit, reducing diagnostic times and improving the patient experience.

Three Visual Acuity Assessment screens were acquired with funds donated from former patient Kate*, on behalf of her late parents Ronald and Yvonne. Kate* had a turned eye as a child and underwent numerous surgeries to correct the condition, including two  with  legendary ophthalmologist Ringland Anderson – for whom the first Chair of Ophthalmology was later named at Melbourne University.

In the late 1990s, Kate* then underwent surgery with ocular surgeon Dr Lionel Kowal at the Eye and Ear hospital. 

“My husband and I and our sons have certainly had extensive contact with the Eye and Ear for eye problems - I have been a patient here for many years, including a surgery and spent a lot of time with orthoptists both within and outside the hospital, said Kate*.

Prior to Kate's generous donation, the clinic used a combination of mirrors, cards and old style Alphabet Eye charts to test patients' vision.

“I was tested using these old methods in non-hospital clinics as a child in the 1950s and I noticed on a recent visit to the Eye and Ear a similar system was still in use, said Kate*.

Diagnostic Eye Services Manager, Catherine Mancuso, said the assessment screens are a valuable asset for the clinic and have quickly been put to work in the busy Ocular Motility Clinic

“Kids today are so used to computer screens that it is harder to engage and hold their interest using the old static methods such as charts and we don't have a lot of child-friendly vision charts in the clinic. This was a way of bringing us into the 21st century, as well as making testing a little more engaging for the kids.

“Having diagnostic equipment that is a bit more dynamic and up-to-date has certainly made the testing experience a more successful one. While the donation was supplied for paediatric use, this is quite versatile equipment so it's equally effective with our adult patients, said Catherine.

The donation was made possible through funds from Kate's parents' estate and a plaque honouring her gift in their memory is attached to each screen.

“My mother passed away a few years ago and then my father in 2011 and I knew I wanted to do something worthwhile with the money from their estate; giving back to the Eye and Ear seemed like the right contribution to make, said Kate*.

*Patient wished to remain anonymous

Kate's parents, Ronald and Yvonne