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Ophthalmology | Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) | Te Whatu Ora

Public Service, Ophthalmology

Today

8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Description

Formerly Northland DHB Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology Service
Outpatient clinics are held on the 5th floor, Whangārei Hospital and we hold weekly clinics in Kaitaia Hospital. 

What is Ophthalmology?
Ophthalmology is the branch of specialist medicine that is focused on the health of eyes and their surrounding tissues, including muscles, bones, eyelids, and tear production/drainage systems. Your eye is the organ of vision and consists of the cornea (the outer clear layer), the sclera (the white of the eye), the iris (the coloured part), the lens (lies behind the iris) and the retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye). Your eyes ‘see’ by focusing light that enters the eye onto the retina which sends the image to the brain by the optic nerve.

Ophthalmologists are doctors who are trained in the study of eyes. Most will be trained in eye surgery, and may have particular areas of interest or expertise.
Optometrists are not doctors but are trained in testing your vision to assess your need for glasses or contact lenses. Some also test for glaucoma.
Opticians read prescriptions for visual correction, order lenses and dispense eye glasses and contact lenses.

How do I access this service?

Make an appointment

Complete this form as an alternative to calling us with a follow-up enquiry - Appointment Enquiry.

Referral Expectations

To be seen at the outpatient clinic by an eye specialist or by a nurse specialist, you will need an electronic referral to be sent to the hospital by your GP or by your optometrist.

Please bring your current glasses and current eye drops with you to the clinic appointment.

The Eye Outpatient Clinic is a busy clinic involved with treating patients and training medical and nursing staff.

Emergency patients sometimes need to be fitted in. You will often need to be seen by several members of the Eye Department team as part of your assessment and treatment. For these reasons, you may be in the Eye Department for several hours. If you are Diabetic, please remember to bring snacks and any necessary medication with you. Please also bring any new prescribed medication with you.

As part of the examination of your eyes, you may have drops put into your eyes to dilate the pupil so the back of the eye (retina) can be examined. The drops may cause blurred vision and light sensitivity.

You will need to arrange transport home as you may be unable to drive for at least 2 hours. Wearing dark sunglasses will help reduce light sensitivity.

Charges

Currently, New Zealand residents pay for their public health service through their taxes and there are no additional charges to them at the hospital. Non-New Zealand residents are responsible for the full cost of any medical or surgical treatment they receive at Whangārei Hospital or Kaitaia Hospital.

Hours

8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Mon – Fri 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Please note that due to the large number of patients attending our service, there could be a long wait to be seen by a doctor, clinical nurse specialist or nurse.

Patients must be referred by e-referral from their GP or optometrist.

Common Conditions

Cataracts

Cataracts

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Glaucoma

Glaucoma

Refractive Error: short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism

These conditions cause distance blur. In myopia, the eye has a resting focus at a near distance so that people will be able to see objects clearly at some point close to them, whilst the distance is blurry. Hyperopia also causes distance blur but often does not become noticeable until the eye loses its ability to change focus, frequently in middle age. The loss of focus for near distance (presbyopia or “aged sight”) is also related to a decreased ability to change focus but only affects reading. Astigmatism causes an image to be blurry at all distances, but does not affect clarity of images unless it is severe. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can test for these conditions. Treatment is usually glasses or contact lenses which are only obtainable through an optometrist or dispensing optician. Laser surgery and other corrective surgical techniques can also be used to change the focus of the eye to give clarity of sight in suitable patients. Laser refractive surgery is not currently available at Northland hospitals and is only available through private specialists.

These conditions cause distance blur. In myopia, the eye has a resting focus at a near distance so that people will be able to see objects clearly at some point close to them, whilst the distance is blurry. Hyperopia also causes distance blur but often does not become noticeable until the eye loses its ability to change focus, frequently in middle age. The loss of focus for near distance (presbyopia or “aged sight”) is also related to a decreased ability to change focus but only affects reading. Astigmatism causes an image to be blurry at all distances, but does not affect clarity of images unless it is severe. 

An optometrist or ophthalmologist can test for these conditions. Treatment is usually glasses or contact lenses which are only obtainable through an optometrist or dispensing optician.  Laser surgery and other corrective surgical techniques can also be used to change the focus of the eye to give clarity of sight in suitable patients. Laser refractive surgery is not currently available at Northland hospitals and is only available through private specialists.

Retinal Detachment

This is when the retina detaches, meaning it is lifted or separated from its normal position within the eye. An acute retinal detachment requires urgent assessment and appropriate treatment. Unless prompt and effective treatment is given, some forms of retinal detachment may lead to irreversible blindness. Signs and symptoms include: a sudden or gradual increase in floaters, deterioration in vision, cobwebs or specks with the visual field, light flashes in the eye or the appearance of curtains over the visual field. You are more likely to have a retinal detachment if you are very short-sighted or have had an injury or previous surgery to the eye. For minor detachments, a laser or freeze treatment (cryopexy) are used. Both therapies re-attach the retina. For major detachment, surgery will be necessary. A band is often put around the back of the eye to prevent further detachment. Surgical treatment is usually a vitrectomy, where the jelly (vitreous) is removed from the eye. This often involves a hospital stay. It can take several months post-surgery to see the final visual result.

This is when the retina detaches, meaning it is lifted or separated from its normal position within the eye. An acute retinal detachment requires urgent assessment and appropriate treatment. Unless prompt and effective treatment is given, some forms of retinal detachment may lead to irreversible blindness.
Signs and symptoms include: a sudden or gradual increase in floaters, deterioration in vision, cobwebs or specks with the visual field, light flashes in the eye or the appearance of curtains over the visual field. You are more likely to have a retinal detachment if you are very short-sighted or have had an injury or previous surgery to the eye.
For minor detachments, a laser or freeze treatment (cryopexy) are used.  Both therapies re-attach the retina. For major detachment, surgery will be necessary. A band is often put around the back of the eye to prevent further detachment.  Surgical treatment is usually a vitrectomy, where the jelly (vitreous) is removed from the eye. This often involves a hospital stay.  It can take several months post-surgery to see the final visual result.
Squints (strabismus)

Squints (strabismus)

Refreshments

Visitors can buy food from the hospital cafeteria or Columbus Cafe. Snacks and canned drinks are also available from the coin machines on the ground floor and lower ground floor.

Public Transport

Please click here for the CityLink bus timetable for Route 6 (Maunu).

There is a weekday bus service between Kaitaia and Whangārei hospitals. Please click here for further information.

Parking

Car parking is at a premium on the hospital site, so we ask you to adhere to time limits and restrictions, which are enforced with tow-aways. All day visitor parking is available in the main carpark.

Accommodation

Visitors may arrange accommodation in the Maunu Residence or Te Whaea o te Whānau (Whānau House). Please ask your nurse for further information.

Security

Security guards regularly patrol the hospital and grounds.

Contact Details

Whangārei Hospital

Northland

8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

More details…

Kaitaia Hospital

Northland

8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

More details…

This page was last updated at 12:17PM on July 27, 2023. This information is reviewed and edited by Ophthalmology | Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) | Te Whatu Ora.