Patients in eastern Southampton are now able to access cutting edge eye treatment closer to home following the launch of a new outreach service.
Southampton Eye Unit is the first in the South to offer age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment at a GP surgery.
A specialist team consisting of a consultant, junior doctor, nurse and technician is on hand every Monday and Tuesday at Blackthorn Health Centre in Hamble to administer patients' injections, carry out follow-up appointments or provide a further course of treatment if needed.
In the past, patients suffering from AMD and living outside the city's boundaries would have been required to make regular trips to the Eye Unit, which is based at Southampton General Hospital.
Charissa Brain, ophthalmology project manager at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "It is great news for patients who live on the outskirts of our patch that they can now receive the services of our leading specialists closer to home.
"Many of these patients require monthly appointments, so being able to access eye treatment at their local surgery will make life much easier."
Leading Eye Unit consultant Professor Andrew Lotery spent a year establishing the new service with his team of clinicians, nurses and project managers after receiving the go-ahead in February 2008.
He said: "Getting this service started has involved a tremendous multi-disciplinary effort. I am delighted that we now can provide faster and more convenient treatment for patients closer to their homes. We hope to also develop other satellite units in the near future.
"This model of managing macular degeneration could also be adopted by many other hospitals around the country too and so benefit even more patients."
AMD is the most common cause of severe visual impairment in elderly people in the developed world and it is estimated that a quarter of a million older adults suffer from blindness due to this condition in the UK alone.
Last year, Prof Lotery headed research published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology and The Lancet which led to the discovery of new genes that could help prevent the onset of AMD.
Posted on Monday 23 March 2009