Picture of Mitchell Wilson

International collaboration supports patient understanding of enucleation

8 October 2020

Melbourne’s Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital has partnered with the World Association of Eye Hospitals (WAEH) and other leading member institutions including Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Moorfields) in the UK and Kellogg Eye Centre in the US to fill a gap in patient education related to enucleation. Enucleation is the surgical removal of the eye that leaves the eye muscles intact to support the insertion of an artificial eye.

A Nurse Unit Manager at the Eye and Ear, Mitchell Wilson, knows first-hand about the anxiety and challenges experienced by such patients, after having had an eye removed as a child. This experience, led him to champion an international collaboration project of Eye Hospitals to develop an education package that support patients facing this surgery.

Mitchell Wilson noted:

Patients who needed to have an eye removed, were often traumatised by the prospect, and there was little information available to them that could support their understanding of the process. 

Mitchell was often called upon to talk about the realities of an artificial eye with patients facing enucleation surgery at the Eye and Ear. As happy as he was to speak with them, he felt that more resources would fulfil a broader need in our community and internationally.  With this goal, Mitchell approached the World Association of Eye Hospitals who were keen to support his project to create more patient focused resources related to enucleation.  The project team was formed which included Mitchell along with his international colleagues.  As part of the initiative, videos, a patient fact sheet and FAQ resource were created that answered some very common questions that patients had.  A key objective of the project was to develop a sustainable education package on enucleation for patients and health care professionals that can provide reliable and complete information on the surgery and living with an artificial eye.

Chief Executive of the Eye and Ear hospital, Brendon Gardner commented:

I am proud of the leadership demonstrated by Mitchell Wilson and the rest of this international project team in delivering this critical tool in supporting broader understanding of the enucleation process. This patient centric project is an excellent example both of the significant benefits gained from having a stand-alone specialist eye hospital and the value of global associations such as WAEH.. 

At The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital we see around 60 penetrating eye injuries every year that require surgery, mainly men aged between 20 and 59. Most are a result of accidents that could have been avoided if the person was wearing good eye protection. During COVID we are seeing an increase in injuries from household cleaning products, DIY and gardening.

Director of Emergency Associate Professor Carmel Crock has one clear message “Use protective eyewear” 

Resources developed can be accessed here

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