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Meet Pete – Clinical Scientist in Ophthalmic Imaging at Sheffield Children’s

Young girl at eye department with mum wearing eye band reading book
17 March 2023

white man with beard and white outfit with blue accents. blue lanyard. smiling with brown hair

Pete is a Clinical Scientist and Service Manager in Ophthalmic Imaging. He works across four hospital sites, including Sheffield Children’s, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, the Northern General Eye Centre and the Eye Imaging Hub.

This week is Healthcare Science Week so we’re putting the spotlight on Pete as a brilliant example of a specialism that forms the scientific backbone of diagnostic services.

Pete talks us through how he got into the role, what his job looks like now across all of the sites and what services they provide:

Getting into the role

I joined the ophthalmic department straight out of university as an ophthalmic technician. I picked ophthalmology as several of my family have eye conditions and I had attended appointments with them and was fascinated by the investigations they had.

What does the role look like now

Our service across the four hospital sites has grown significantly over the past decade, and we now perform over 100,000 investigations annually.

We provide over 30 different types of investigations including retinal scans to help monitor conditions like age-related macular degeneration, biometry (measurement of eye for cataract surgery), ultrasound to help with the management of conditions like retinal detachments and ocular oncology.

We also perform retinal screening on premature babies to ensure the retina is developing correctly. Each of our sites is very different, and clinics can be extremely busy and fast-paced.

The Children’s Department opened in 2021 and we have now doubled the number of babies, children and young people we were seeing previously. Having a specialist department for children and young people means we can now dedicate more time to each child, which ensures we get the best possible results in an appropriate.

The range of diagnostics we provide varies greatly as does the test length – some tests like corneal scans can be done in five to 10 minutes, other investigations like angiograms (where we use a special dye which highlights blood vessels as it moves through them) can take up to 30 to 40 minutes. Making sure we have good reliable investigations is paramount to allow the highest quality of patient care.

Over the last few years, the department has taken on a number of extended roles – including glaucoma reporting, diabetic reporting and post-surgery cataracts among others. This role expansion provides exciting new roles for the team who are all very keen to learn and develop and love new challenges.

“Providing healthcare to patients is extremely rewarding”

Providing healthcare to patients is extremely rewarding, and our diagnostic work aids diagnosis and guides treatment, helping people maintain sight. Within the role you will often see patients attending for several years and get to know them very well. One of the patient groups that we see frequently is those with age related macular degeneration.

As well as monitoring changes to the central vision that indicate where more treatment needs to be given, the extended roles we have taken on, where we give intravitreal eye injections, also hopefully help stabilise age-related macular degeneration.

The opening of the ‘Eye Imaging Hub’ in the COVID pandemic enabled us to continue to provide eye imaging diagnostics in very challenging circumstances. The site now provides around 25% of our total diagnostics, and has created a better more efficient patient experience for those patients who have booked diagnostic only appointments. Previously, these patients were all seen at the Royal Hallamshire and we sometimes had long queues of patients waiting for ‘imaging only appointments’ alongside those who were being seen in clinic. It was lot of hard work to get the service up and running but patient questionnaires show that the Eye Imaging Hub is a much-valued service.

Thank you Pete for sharing an insight into your role – you’re a vital part of the services across Sheffield Children’s and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals!

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