Independent sector could be part of solution to NHS eye health challenges, say experts at Newmedica

Glaucoma awareness

THE Newmedica eye health clinic in Nuneaton has recently delivered its 10,000th treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). And 82-year-old Laura Hall was delighted to play her part in the team achieving such a massive milestone.

Mrs Hall has been coming to the clinic, based at Camp Hill Health Centre in Camp Hill, since June 2020. She receives injections to tackle her wet AMD in both of her eyes each month to help her maintain her sight, and the 10,000th treatment marked her 13th visit.

Mrs Hall, who received a celebratory hamper in recognition of her landmark visit, said: ‘They’re always so kind and welcoming when I go in to be treated at Newmedica, and it’s nice to see the same friendly faces each time.

‘Both my eyes have deteriorated over the years. I used to see sort of clouds in my vision, which frightened me a bit at first, but that’s gone since I’ve been having the injections.

‘The injections aren’t painful. It sounds worse than it really is. It just takes two seconds to be done, so I would certainly recommend that other people who need it have it done. Sight is the one thing I wouldn’t want to lose. Life is precious, especially your sight.’

The clinic opened in 2015, and specialises in AMD, treating blockages in veins in the eye, and supporting patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy.

AMD is a common condition that affects the middle part of your vision, and there are two types – dry and wet. It usually first affects people in their 50s and 60s, and does not cause total blindness, but can make everyday activities like reading and recognising faces difficult.

Without treatment, vision can deteriorate. This can happen gradually over several years (dry AMD), or quickly over a few weeks or months (wet AMD), and the exact cause is unknown. It is often first detected at a routine eye test.

There is no treatment for dry AMD, but vision aids such as magnifiers can help reduce the impact. Patients with wet AMD may need regular eye injections, as in Mrs Hall’s case. Very occasionally photodynamic therapy, involving laser treatment alongside the use of medication, can also stop vision getting worse. According to the NHS, injections stop vision loss getting worse in 90% of patients and even improve vision in 30%. Most people have minimal discomfort as a result.

Tracey Morris, service manager at the Newmedica clinic in Nuneaton, said: ‘Mrs Hall has been coming to see us for a while, and is always cheerful. She has both eyes injected every time she comes in, but patients can have them done one at a time if they prefer.

‘We are currently taking on new NHS patients who need to use our services and, at the moment, we hope to be able to schedule an initial appointment with those new patients in just 10 days. So, if you are a GP or optician seeking to refer your patient, please give us a call, or if you want to visit us, speak to them about referring you.’

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