A healthy vision: Inside Bundy's new eye service
SIGHT, smell, taste and touch work together to protect the human body and ensure the best parts of life can be experienced, so when Laz Kiraly started losing his ability to see, a wave of panic washed over the Bundy local.
Mr Kiraly began to struggle over tasks that were once part of his daily routine, like watching television and helping to transport his pensioner mother.
"My eyesight was getting very bad that every day when I shaved I had to do it by touch because I couldn't see the bristles and I had to feel my face to make sure I had shaved properly,” he said.
"I was worried about losing my license too, which meant I wouldn't be able to help my mother, take her shopping and to appointments, or even get myself to my health appointments.” Making matters worse, Mr Kiraly, along with many other patients, were forced to travel to Brisbane or Hervey Bay for specialist appointments and procedures.
"A lot of the time I would travel to Brisbane for appointments and I could only get in in the morning, so that meant I couldn't really travel by car and had to come down the day before and grab a night's accommodation,” Mr Kiraly said.
"I was surprised at how quick and painless the procedure was and it made a difference pretty much straight away.”
Bundaberg Private Day Hospital and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service have created a partnership that means cataract procedures are now able to be brought back to Bundaberg for public patients, significantly reducing the amount of travel, waiting times and costs.
Mr Kiraly was one of almost 300 patients that have received the treatment, since it became available in Bundaberg just four months ago.
This partnership means that no patient has waited more than two months to be seen by a specialist, following their initial referral and no more than two months for surgery, following their first specialist appointment. Mr Kiraly was over the moon when his procedure was confirmed, as it meant he could continue driving, preserve his independence and maintain a social life, despite his own admission that he's more of a home-body anyway.
After receiving the first procedure over a month ago and second procedure on Monday, Mr Kiraly said his positive experience was proof that the public health and speciality services available in the region were getting better and waiting times were reducing.
Bundaberg Hospital's clinical optometrist Claire Finter first met Mr Kiraly when he was referred to the hospital for left and right eye cataract surgery, around Easter time this year.
The initial specialist appointment consists of an overall eye assessment, measurement and lens selection, as well as an explanation of the procedure and any possible, yet unlikely risks involved with the surgery.
"It's a wonderful service to have here in Bundaberg and we see lots of different patients who can have quite distressing problems because of their vision and it's becoming very poor, very quickly,” Ms Finter said.
"Some of them are unable to access cataract services in any other way, so it's great that we can offer public surgery for cataract procedures here.”
Ms Finter said she loved the follow-up appointments, where the staff could see just how excited the patients were and how much it had impacted their lives for the better.