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Ophthalmic nurses are a group of nurses who have specialised in eye health.  They are frontiers of eye health in all areas of health delivery in the country. In Ghana, there are 560 ophthalmic nurses, spread across public and private institutions. The Ghana Ophthalmic Nurses Group is the umbrella body for practitioners. Daniel Dankyi, Vice-Chairman of the group tells GBCONLINE more about the work and challenges of Ophtalmic nurses.

Becoming an Ophthalmic Nurse
It’s been said by many that the eyes are the windows to the soul. However, medically speaking, they are also the organs responsible for one of our most coveted senses – sight. Eye problems can be very frustrating, particularly if they affect a person’s vision.

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the health of the eyes. Professionals in this field, such as ophthalmic nurses work to help prevent, diagnose, and treat patients that are suffering from eye problems.

What is an Ophthalmic Nurse?
An ophthalmic nurse is a nursing professional that focuses on assessing and treating patients with a variety of eye diseases and injuries. These can include eye diseases, such as blindness, astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Ophthalmic nurses also treat injuries of the eye, including scratched corneas and eye trauma.

Ophthalmic nurses treat infants, children, and adult patients. However, since our eyes are more susceptible to diseases and disorders as we age, the majority of ophthalmic nurses’ patients are elderly individuals. Of course, as an ophthalmic nurse, you can also choose to work in a sub-specialty, such as pediatric ophthalmology.

As the elderly population grows, ophthalmic nurses and other ophthalmology professionals are expected to be in high demand in the coming years. Also, since this nursing specialty isn’t as popular as some of the other nursing specialties available, there’s little chance that you won’t be able to find a position in this field.

What do Ophthalmic Nurses Do?
Ophthalmic nurses have a hand in assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients with various eye diseases and injuries.

Assessing and diagnosing patients often requires ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses to physically examine their patients’ eyes and record symptoms. Retinoscopes, for instance, can be used to inspect the tissues inside the eyeball. Ophthalmic nurses may also be required to check a patient’s vision by asking them to read an eye chart from a distance.

Sometimes the cause of an eye problem might be an underlying health problem. If this is the case, an ophthalmic nurse will perform a thorough physical examination to uncover possible illnesses, such as diabetes, that may be contributing to the eye problem.

Ophthalmic nurses also play an important role in treating patients with eye problems. They may offer tips and advice to patients looking to manage eye pain or other symptoms, for instance. They may also administer medications, or show patients how to administer medications like eye drops on their own. If corrective lenses are required to improve a patient’s vision, an ophthalmic nurse will also help ensure that the patient’s glasses or contacts fit properly.

At times, surgery may be required to correct a severe eye problem, such as retinal detachment. Ophthalmic nurses might also be required to assist during this surgery as well as care for the patients afterward.

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