Patients attending eye clinics at Yeovil and Musgrove Park hospitals are benefiting from two new state-of-the-art retinal cameras which image at least four times as much of the retina (back of the eye) in contrast to the previous camera.
The new cameras, called Optos California, were purchased and installed at both hospitals at the end of 2017 as part of an innovative joint working agreement with pharmaceutical company Bayer.
Over 800 patients seen by ophthalmologists have so far benefited from quicker, wider and higher quality retinal photos.
Mr Shantanu Gudsoorkar, the consultant ophthalmic surgeon who is leading the project at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “The Optos California and three new retinal scanners, provided by the hospital, have been vital in helping us to set up virtual retinal imaging clinics where we can capture high quality retinal images and scans, which our consultants review within a few days.
“This is a more efficient way of seeing new non-urgent referrals and monitoring patients with long-term stable retinal problems.
“We already have 40 appointment slots a week and we are aiming to increase this to 60. This should increase capacity for patients needing face to face appointments for urgent retinal problems.”
Another significant benefit of the new camera is that clinicians are now able to view and image the peripheral retinal disease which wouldn’t have possible by the previous camera.
“This is particularly important for patients with severe diabetic retinopathy and Uveitis (eye inflammation),” said Mr Gudsoorkar. “Whereas before we had to refer these patients to Bristol, we now have the technology in Somerset and they can be cared for closer to home.”
Mr Paritosh Shah, consultant ophthalmologist at Yeovil Hospital, said the new scanner employs state-of-the-art technology and has helped the team develop a more efficient and modern service.
“It is estimated that the new way of delivering care will help open up about 300 new appointment slots for retinal patients every year at Yeovil alone.
“With the Optos California, our eye clinic has been able to develop the assistant practitioner role, enabling doctors to review images remotely and freeing up clinic appointments.
“This means we now provide a more rapid service locally for patients, which is an essential part of providing great care for those with retinal conditions including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.”
Commenting on Bayer’s contribution to the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil Hospital, joint working project, Amanda Cunnington, Head of Patient Access at Bayer UK, “With continued pressure on NHS capacity, we are proud to be able to partner with NHS Trusts like Taunton and Somerset and Yeovil to address some of the key challenges in delivering vital retinal services to those who need them most.
“By collaborating to develop customised approaches that meet the needs of local patients and improve their access to state-of-the art facilities, we’re able to help ophthalmology health services in delivering high quality patient care and improving patient outcomes.”