I, together with over 70 other Trust Members, attended the Members’ Event held at Ashford Hospital on 25th March 2014 at which Mr Arun Gupta, Consultant Ophthalmologist, gave a presentation on Eye Treatments and Surgery. The presentation was both informative and enjoyable and was presented in such a manner that the complex subject matter was easily understood.
The eye conditions covered were: Cataract, Glaucoma; Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy. It was explained that all of these conditions were age related and given that we were living longer, it was probable that we may develop any one of these conditions.
Cataract is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes milky and if left untreated will result in blindness. Surgery where the lens is replaced is the only treatment for this condition and since the risk of complications is now very low, can be performed at any stage of the cataract development, unlike in the past when surgery was delayed until the sight was badly affected. Guidelines vary between Health authorities on when patients can be accepted on the waiting list for NHS funded surgery.
The waiting time for surgery at Ashford and St Peter’s is currently around 3 months. The patient experiences no pain during surgery which is carried out under local anaesthetic. Anaesthetic can be administered in the form of eye drops, although some surgeons prefer to use an injection. There are no restrictions on physical activity post operation and some people return to work as early as the following day. Contact lenses can be worn after the operation and full eye tests should be undertaken around 6 weeks after surgery. The implant will last for life and driving can be resumed within a few days. This condition is usually picked up during routine eye tests by a high street optician. .
Glaucoma is a condition where fluid builds up inside the eye causing the pressure in the eye to increase and this affects the optic nerve resulting in an increasing loss of peripheral vision. There are generally no symptoms and the condition is diagnosed by field and pressure tests. You are more likely to be at risk of developing this condition if you have family members who have this condition; you have short sightedness and/or diabetes. If this condition is not treated it can lead to blindness. Treatment is normally via eye drops and should these not work, surgery or laser treatment may be considered. Screening is undertaken by the high street optician who will make a referral to an Ophthalmologist for a full diagnosis if any anomalies are found. Annual checks are considered to be adequate
Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of blindness. It is age related and takes two forms:
- Dry, for which there is no treatment and;
- Wet, for which injections may be given to slow down the progression of the condition but these do not cure the condition or restore sight.
Macular Degeneration does not make a person totally blind but sufferers are unable to read or recognise facial features. It is possible that within the next 5 to 10 years the use of stem cells may be available to restore sight in those suffering from macular degeneration. .
Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition which will affect everyone who suffers from diabetes at some stage but its progression is slowed down if the diabetes is well controlled. Patients who have diabetics are monitored by having their retina photographed annually or more frequently if there is any anomaly found. Laser treatment is available but because of the destructive nature of this treatment it is only performed after weighing up the benefits and risks.
Members had many questions which Mr Gupta responded to and the presentation ended with the clear message that everyone should undergo an annual eye test at their local optician so that any potential condition can be detected in its early stages and a programme of treatment begun once the diagnosis is confirmed by the Ophthalmologist.
Godfrey Freemantle, Governor for Hounslow