Eye experts in Southampton are set to launch a new mobile unit to treat patients with a form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) closer to home.
The medical retina clinic, a partnership between University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and pharmaceutical company Bayer, will be located initially at a site in Hedge End before expanding to locations across Southampton, Winchester and the New Forest.
It will be staffed by members of Southampton General Hospital's eye unit and includes a reception and waiting area, an imaging room, two consultation rooms and two treatment rooms.
AMD is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly and occurs when the cells of the macula become damaged and stop working, causing a loss of central vision.
Although there is not currently a cure or treatment for the most common form of the condition, known as dry AMD, wet macular degeneration can be stabilised or improved using a class of drugs administered by injection called anti-VEGF agents.
The number of patients attending Southampton General Hospital's eye unit for sight-saving injections has doubled over the past four years to more than 3,000 a year.
The mobile unit, which will deliver more than 6,000 injections and 5,000 patient reviews a year, will also treat patients suffering from retinal vein occlusions and diabetic macular oedema who also require anti-VEGF injections to treat their conditions.
"Patients with AMD and some other retinal conditions require close monitoring of their condition, with regular follow-up appointments to prevent further vision loss and patients told us travelling to Southampton for regular treatment was inconvenient and costly," said Christina Rennie, consultant ophthalmologist and clinical lead for ophthalmology at UHS.
"The launch of the mobile unit will ease pressure on services within our eye unit and provide significant benefits for patients, including reduced travel time, reduced waiting times and a better overall treatment experience."
The initial phase of the project will see the unit situated at King's Community Church in Hedge End before being rolled out at other locations across Hampshire over the coming months.
Lars Bruening, CEO of Bayer UK/Ireland, said: “At Bayer we are proud to collaborate with NHS trusts to implement solutions that improve the delivery of much needed ophthalmology services.
“The expansion of this community-based mobile unit allows for greater and more efficient delivery of quality services to the people who need them most.”
Posted on Friday 22 September 2017