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The History of Perth Eye Hospital and Eye Surgery Foundation

The first documented eye operations were in ancient times where cataracts were treated with a technique called couching. This could only be performed when the lens had become completely opaque, rigid, and heavy. The eye would then be struck with a blunt object with sufficient force to dislocate the lens, restoring limited but unfocused vision. Thankfully things have changed dramatically. However, it’s only been recently that cataract surgery has become the painless, quick procedure that we know today.

Perth Eye Hospital (formerly known as the Eye Surgery Foundation) has been at the forefront of the technological evolution of eye surgery in Australia. To see how far we’ve come you need to remember that as recently as the mid eighties, 90% of cataract surgery was extra capsular and necessitated a general anesthetic and a two-night stay in hospital. Laser technology was still in its infancy.

In 1987, a group of Western Australian Ophthalmologists came together with the sole aim of building a Centre of Excellence for Eye Surgery. They saw the need to provide a first class facility that all ophthalmologists could access and use. They wanted to be able to offer patients the very latest technology and techniques to minimise the discomfort and inconvenience traditionally associated with this procedure. They had a clear and unique vision of an organisation that would see proceeds reinvested into eye research and eye charities and not corporations or businessmen.

Initially they operated out of South Perth, subleasing a separate area in the Surgi-Centre, but always holding the view that they needed to be more centrally located. In 1989 they moved to Ord Street West Perth to the site of the current premises. Together these ophthalmologists funded and modified an old house into a first class Day Procedure facility dedicated only to eyes. They fitted the centre with state of the science equipment utilising cutting edge phaco techniques and technology. They were amongst the first in Australia to do so and as a result were able to offer the people of Perth the best and most up to date procedures, performed by highly trained and specialised surgeons and ophthalmic nurses.

By now there were 10 ophthalmologists involved and together they created what we know today as Perth Eye Hospital. In 2011 it was decided that after 20 years of operation the facility needed upgrading. In November 2013, after 18 months of construction, the Eye Surgery Foundation returned to Ord Street to a new state of the science facility. The newly refurbished day hospital was two and half times the size of the previous facility with four operating theatres, a five bay recovery suite and a second stage recovery lounge. Seventy staff and over 30 surgeons now conduct nearly 9000 procedures at this facility each year.

In 2015, The Eye Surgery Foundation decided to update its name to Perth Eye Hospital. It was felt that this name better described the hospital's broad catchment area ('Perth'), its specialisation ('Eye' surgery) and the substantial scale and multi-faceted nature of the organisation ('Hospital').

Whilst the name has changed some things haven’t. Perth Eye Hospital remains passionate about patient care and their experienced clinical and administrative staff continue to provide the best treatment. The initial vision of the far sighted men and women who founded this organisation has not changed either, and profits from the hospital continue to fund the delivery of blindness prevention and sight-preservation programs. Thanks to their vision, in the last decade alone, almost 3 million dollars has been donated to these causes and as a result thousands of patients around the world now have improved vision.


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