Machine that will transform eye disease treatment unveiled
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A hospital research unit has unveiled a machine that may transform treatment for an eye condition and is the first of its kind in East Anglia.
The ophthalmology (eye disease) research unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) invited members of the public and colleagues to see the newly-installed IRay machine, a non-invasive robotic radiotherapy device.
Its arrival in Norfolk makes it easier for East Anglian residents to take part in a ground-breaking nationwide research study called STAR.
STAR aims to reduce or remove the need for regular, life-long eye injections for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a leading cause of blindness in the UK.
Research participants are now able to receive treatment as part of the study on the main hospital site, instead of travelling to London.
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The first recipient of the new treatment was Shirley Place, an 82-year-old from Hoveton. Mrs Place has had eye problems for many years and previously received injections on a regular basis.
However, when she read about STAR in this newspaper she asked to be involved, and became the first person to try the new machine.
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Mrs Place said: 'It's just a blue light that you look at. Hopefully they will get more people coming now.'
Aseema Misra, consultant opthalmologist, said: 'Monthly life-long injections are a massive burden of disease for the patients and for the NHS.
'This device is able to deliver a very precise beam of low-grade radiotherapy to the macular which is able to go some way in curing the disease, so a good proportion of patients don't need any further injections, or they need only one or two every year, compared to the usual six or seven.
'We think it's a real game changer in the treatment of AMD and we think it's going to be very beneficial for our patients and the NHS as a whole.'
John Fry, chairman of NNUH, who cut the ribbon on the machine, said: 'When I first moved to Norfolk 16 years ago, one of my great discoveries was actually the quality of eye care. This really is a leading centre in eye research.'
NNUH is recruiting participants with wet AMD. Contact the research team on 01603 288870.