Optometry in a pandemic – working with hospital orthoptic department

A 16-month-old girl can now play happily with her toys and on her bouncy castle after being fitted with glasses during lockdown.

Heidi Kilpatrick had been referred to a hospital orthoptic clinic back in February with an appointment set up for April. Naturally, this had to be cancelled due to coronavirus with no new date planned in the near future.

But her mum Debbie Woods began to get concerned when she noticed the turn in her daughter’s eye getting worse. A friend suggested Specsavers’ online RemoteCare service, a free video and phone consultation service. Once Debbie, who lives in Markethill, had completed the online form she got a call the next morning from Wayne Watson, Banbridge Specsavers ophthalmic partner.

Wayne Watson says: ‘We usually look after children from the age of three upwards, so I contacted our local health board advisor for guidance and was asked to liaise with the hospital’s orthoptic clinic. As the clinic did not have a date to resume routine services, they asked if I could see Heidi.

‘Although the clinic had asked me to complete Heidi’s test, I required further approval from the health board advisor. Authorisation was granted and when I refracted Heidi I found she was very long-sighted and I prescribed her glasses.’

Debbie was pleased she made the call to Specsavers and said solutions fell into place very quickly.

‘Within 10 days of my first phone call with Wayne, Heidi was proudly wearing her new glasses. The difference it has made to Heidi is like “night and day”. Before wearing glasses, Heidi was more introverted and less active, but now that she can see everything clearly she is playing happily with her toys and her bouncy castle, taking notice of everything that is around her and walking about the house holding onto us or to furniture. And it’s all because she can see properly now with her glasses. I’ve also noticed that the turn in Heidi’s eye isn’t at all obvious when she has her glasses on,’ Heidi says.

‘Of course, we totally understood that routine hospital eye checks had to be put on hold because of coronavirus, but I felt I needed to take positive action as Heidi’s turn was definitely deteriorating.

‘We will of course at some stage be able to go to the hospital’s orthoptic clinic, but meanwhile we have a happy, confident and contented little girl and that really means the world to Alastair [my partner] and I.’

Debbie thanked Wayne and Jeffrey at Banbridge Specsavers. ‘They were both so helpful, liaising with the health board on our behalf and looking after Heidi,’ says Debbie. ‘She really likes her new glasses and is getting used to wearing them even though she is so young. We went back into the store to get bands fitted to the sides to help Heidi keep her glasses on and it’s really worked a treat.’

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