Taking a closer look with specialist ophthalmologist, Dr. Edith Hampson

‘Eye’ am sure many of you know this week’s very talented (and down right wonderful) featured member of our VetPrac community, specialist ophthalmologist, Dr. Edith Hampson (BVSc PhD FANZCVS). Dr Hampson is currently working at The University of Queensland where she occupies the post of Clinical Academic and Specialist Veterinary Ophthalmologist at the School of Veterinary Science. Dr Hampson is shaping the next generation of veterinarians and improving the lives of her patients. Please join us in welcoming Dr Hampson to the blog!

What is it about ophthalmology that peaked your interest prior to specialization, and what keeps you inspired going forward?

My postdoctoral work looked at how retinal cells communicated with each other and how different drugs could modulate gap junctions between specific retinal cell types. The flat retinal model is perfect for understanding similar mechanisms in the brain. Towards the end of my research studies, I started back in clinical practice but mostly examining eye cases. It was most exciting. I knew I just had to specialize then. I still am fascinated and I now enjoy sharing that passion through teaching.

What is your favourite ophthalmic condition to treat or manage or your favourite procedure to perform?

I enjoy treating ocular surface diseases, particularly in pug dogs.

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook?

The most important thing I have learned from experience is developing a good ocular examination technique which is a “hands on experience” and difficult to get from a textbook.

What procedure, technology, or medication have you tried that doesn’t work?

A surgical technique that doesn’t work well is a simple Hotz-Celsus for entropion repair in the cat. It fails because a lateral canthoplasty technique is also required to prevent recurrence.

What have you tried that does work and may be surprising to other vets?

I find that artificial tear replacements are beneficial not only for cases of dry eye, but in cases of poor ocular surface health, especially in geriatric patients.

What in particular do you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning about ophthalmology?

GPs can benefit most by learning how to perform a great ophthalmic examination. This is essential before making a diagnosis and treatment plan.

What is your ‘hot tip’ for general practitioners regarding ophthalmic exams?

Perform distant direct ophthalmoscopy or retroillumination. It can show you the difference between nuclear sclerosis and true cataract, as well as detecting lesions anywhere between the cornea and the retina.

Would you like to share any horror or hero stories from your experience?

Horror stories I have experienced mostly reflect cases in which tissues samples were not submitted for pathological examination or stored in formalin. As a result the disease or masses progressed resulting in either enucleation or even euthanasia. Earlier detection of the underlying disease processes could have made such a difference in treating or managing the disease.

What advice would you give new graduates?

Ask the question – why, why, why? I would suggest that new graduates get as much information from their more experienced colleagues as possible in their first few years; have a note book to write everything down during the day so that you can look it up at night – write little summaries to have the information at hand when talking to clients.

Also keep a check on the outcome of all your patients – get them back for rechecks or telephone. It is this feedback and review information that will tell you if you have been successful in your diagnoses and treatment plans.

What do you like to do for fun and to unwind outside of work? How do you spend your days off?

At the moment I have been training in spin classes at the gym in preparation for cycling in France. I love reading non-fiction and biographies, meeting up with friends for a good laugh, enjoying the company of my adult children and making gifts for friends and family.

We hope you have an incredible trip, Dr Hampson!