On the 1 July 2013 Bay of Plenty District Health board has initiated a new system for cataract referrals into the public system. The old system was that GP's or optometrists had to refer patients in with decreased vision and typically some 2-3 months later the patient would get an appointment at Park Street eye clinic in Tauranga for another eye examination to confirm the cause of loss of vision. If it is cataract then the patients name was put forward to the DHB and a questionnaire was sent to the patient - depending on the outcome of the questionnaire and points, the patient was informed either of a date for surgery or if the application was declined. This old system left the patient with uncertainty for up to 6 months.
This new system is different in that we give you as the patient a definite answer within a 2-3 week period. Papamoa optometrists will do a cataract assessment which will require you to attend your appointment with a driver as we will need to dilate both your pupils. During the appointment we work our way through the referral form completing all fields and then fax it through to Tauranga Public hospital. Typically within a week you will then receive the questionnaire which you post back to the DHB. About another 1-2 weeks later you will receive notification whether our application is successful or declined. This new system gives you much quicker certainty as to our referral. GP's still have the option of referring via the old system, but are encouraged to refer you to an optometrist for a cataract assessment as we can give you a much faster outcome.