Great expectations

A 15-minute laser treatment could replace the inconvenience of daily drops for glaucoma patients


Covering science and vision stories for OT , there are many press releases that come across my desk that sound promising, but the potential for the device or treatment to transform the daily lives of patients is slim and may not occur for many years.

In most cases, further testing needs to be conducted, funding needs to be secured and flaws in prototype models need to be ironed out.

A study published in The Lancet by Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology researchers is an example of research that has more tangible implications for patients facing sight loss as a result of disease.

The research finds that a laser-based treatment, selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), may be more effective in the treatment of glaucoma than the traditional treatment of eye drops.

This approach would have many benefits – there would be fewer compliance challenges in getting patients to administer daily drops and the one-off 15-minute treatment could help to alleviate the burden of disease in developing countries.

Cost is another big factor. Substituting SLT for drops would enable the stretched NHS to save the NHS £1.5 million per year in treatment costs for newly diagnosed patients, with potential to save the health service £250 million per year if the treatment proves to be as effective in previously diagnosed patients.

A commitment to improving the care of patients through research and innovation has seen Moorfields receive a glowing endorsement from the Care and Quality Commission this week. All of the services assessed were rated either “good” or “outstanding” following an inspection in November last year.

In addition to high-level research conducted by universities and hospitals, optometry practices can improve the care of their patients by continuing to question the treatments on offer and the processes staff follow.

Always being willing to ask, ‘what if?’ stands all professionals in good stead. We are keen to hear how you have applied innovation in practice – email us

Image credit: Getty