Eye Surgery Week in Central Australia

Alice Springs was host to an IRIS intensive eye surgical week at the start of May, with 26 patients receiving surgery across three busy days of operating at the Alice Springs Hospital. Many of these patients travelled from Tennant Creek, more than 500km away.


“An intensive eye surgical week allows us to treat more patients sooner than they would otherwise be able to get access to the surgery. And by providing three days of operating, we can efficiently have a group of patients travel together that provides both social support, but is also efficient from a transport point-of-view” said Tim Gallagher, Vanguard Health CEO.

One example of this was Daisy who travelled into Alice Springs from Tennant Creek with her sister Rosie. Daisy was apprehensive about the surgery, but was convinced to make the trip by her sister who has having her second cataract removed.

Daisy from Tennant Creek having her eyesight checked post-operatively in Alice Springs, 9 May 2019.


“It was great to see the support that the patients could offer each other during the week. For many, they would not have made the trip without that additional support and encouragement that travelling as a group provides” said Belinda Castellano, from the IRIS team.

According to Jason Currie, Chief Operating Officer for Vanguard Health the key aspect of the week was the team camaraderie and extra-ordinary efforts put in across the board to provide pre-surgical checks, deliver the three days of surgery and then ensure all of the patients were given appropriate post-operative care.

“It was a great pleasure for IRIS to be able to support this intensive eye surgery week in Alice Springs, and we are grateful for the support we received from the staff at the Alice Springs Hospital in working closely with our team to plan and deliver a very busy week of activity” said Mr Currie.

Noelene was a happy patient following successful cataract surgery in Alice Springs, 10 May 2019.


The IRIS Program delivered 28 surgical procedures across the week to 26 patients. Of these procedures, 21 were cataract surgeries which is the principal focus of the IRIS Program with a commitment to deliver 500 cataract surgeries across Indigenous and remote communities by 30 June 2020.

A further IRIS intensive eye surgical week is planned for 24-28 June 2019 in Alice Springs, with quarterly intensive eye surgical weeks planned over the next 12 months.

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