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Crystal clear vision for foundation

IN response to the long waiting list for elective eye surgery back in 1991, two Western Australian ophthalmologists thought to alleviate the problem by establishing an independent ophthalmic day surgery facility in Perth. At the same time, the two doctors formed a company called the Perth Eye Centre and elected not to take dividends from the venture, profits were channelled instead through its own charitable trust the Eye Surgery Foundation into supporting ophthalmic related education, research and many sight-saving charities as well as optimising its facility with state of the art equipment. The Eye Surgery Foundation’s day hospital still provides eye patients with another option to lengthy visits, and last financial year distributed over $400,000 to different groups including the Lions Eye Institute for research, Equal Health and St. John of Jerusalem who both provide vital eye surgery to patients in developing nations. Executive director of Eye Surgery Foundation, Helen Smith, has been with the Foundation since its inception and said the facility is recognised by Health Insurance Funds and the Department of Veteran Affairs for surgical procedures. “Most surgical procedures are covered by “no gap” health insurance arrangements and disadvantaged pensioner patients are welcome,” she said. “We survive primarily on patient fees from the support of a group of 19 very dedicated ophthalmic surgeons who direct their patients to the day surgery. None of the surgeons has a financial interest in the Foundation.” The Eye Surgery Foundation owns its premises in West Perth and employs the Perth Eye Centre as its management company responsible for the day to day running of the surgery. Due to its ongoing success the centre has expanded to three theatres, one dedicated to refractive procedures and two to general ophthalmic surgery. Operating within their chosen specialty, ophthalmic surgeons provide day procedures such as cataract extraction and intraocular lens implants, glaucoma, corneal transplants, oculo plastic (lid surgery) and refractive surgery. Former chairman and current board member Dr Philip House said the facility was completely free-standing and allowed surgeons to be flexible in practice. “From a surgeon’s point of view it’s a fantastic facility in which to operate. The day care surgery is world class and the surgeons that work there can have an immediate impact on management decisions,” he said. When making decisions to donate, Dr House said the board tries to find a balance between helping research and practical organisations that are fairly pivotal to the provision of community ophthalmic services at a ground level. Here in Perth, surgeons and nurses from developing nations are also invited to observe surgical techniques and learn more about the management of the day surgery. The Eye surgery Foundation has been awarded a four-year accreditation from the Australian Council of Healthcare standards on its first survey and is acknowledged as a centre of excellence.

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