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Timely treatment to restore sight

October 9, 2014

Timely treatment to restore sight Andrew, Andrew's son Benjamin, and Andrew's partner Alyssia

Andrew Thomas was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a rare inherited form of vision loss, approximately seven years ago.

Although LHON affected both of Andrew’s eyes, his left eye was stronger, and as he describes it, “his good eye”.

But in mid-December 2013, a blood vessel burst in Andrew’s left eye causing a sudden drop in vision. This meant Andrew was severely vision impaired in both eyes.

“I was at work and all of a sudden all I could see was blood,” he says.

Andrew’s partner Alyssia rushed him to The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital’s (Eye and Ear) Emergency Department.

“We rushed to the Emergency Department at the Eye and Ear knowing they were the best people to see,” he says.

Dr Carmel Crock is the director of the Emergency Department where around 40,000 patients, including Andrew, are treated every year.

“It is very important for patients to come into the Emergency Department as soon as possible, as Andrew did, because the quicker we can assess and diagnose a condition, the better,” Dr Crock says.

After follow-up care with specialists at the Eye and Ear, Andrew underwent surgery for his burst blood vessel in his retina.

Andrew and his surgeon, Dr David Fabinyi, had a comprehensive discussion about what was involved in the surgery and what to expect.

As a specialist hospital, the Eye and Ear is committed to providing high-quality patient centred care.

“It can be very easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on the problem at hand but it is very important to realise that the retina is attached to a patient,” Dr Fabinyi says.

As we celebrate World Sight Day on Thursday 9 October, it is a timely reminder for everyone to take care of their eyes.

In Australia, 75 per cent of vision impairment is preventable or treatable. The key to good eye health is regular eye tests by an eye care professional and seeking advice as soon as changes in vision are experienced.