Published on 15 October 2019
A commercial and artistic photographer is looking at life through a different lens after retraining as an eye specialist with East Kent Hospitals.
Nadège Rowlstone is one of the hundreds of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) working within the Trust who are showcasing their work for AHP week this week.
As a specialist retinal grader she runs imaging clinics for patients with diabetic eye conditions, helping to manage and monitor people who would previously have had to wait to see a consultant ophthalmologist.
She said: “I always enjoyed the detail of things in the world and wanted to capture their essence and beauty.
“I spent 13 years working in and eventually managing commercial advertising and public photographic laboratory services, but then I spotted the opportunity to train as a retinal photographer for a diabetic eye screening programme.”
Nadège and other recruits were able to train with one of the Trust’s long-serving ophthalmologists, Mr Afsar Jafree, and learnt how to recognise the signs and level of diabetic eye disease, meaning patients don’t necessarily need to be seen by a doctor.
She joined the ophthalmology department in 2016, and was instrumental in setting up a ‘virtual’ outpatient diabetic review service; one of a series of clinics run by AHPs rather than doctors.
Staff are able to monitor patients whose conditions are stable and can refer to a consultant if necessary.
Nadège said: “It is a much faster process for the patient as they usually only need to attend the imaging clinic, and don’t then have to wait to see an ophthalmologist only to be told everything is stable.
“I am able to grade the images and compare them with previous scans and photographs so any changes can be logged.
“It also means the ophthalmologists can see more of the most serious or complicated patients and waiting times are reduced.”
The clinics have proved such a success that other trusts and CCGs are reviewing the EKHUFT system with a view to setting up their own.
Nadège added: “Some people might not find looking for very tiny blood vessel changes and haemorrhages on a photograph all day long in a dark room very exciting but I have never lost the fascination in how intricate the eye is.”