A collaboration with the NHS will see Specsavers provide screening to wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients in Wales from Monday (5 September).
The screening at Specsavers’ Newport practice will be offered to patients living in Gwent and has been established in a bid to reduce AMD waiting times for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Staff at the “first of its kind” Austin Friars Eye Treatment Centre will provide initial screening and referrals for people with symptoms of wet AMD, enabling NHS staff to deliver treatment for the condition from the same High Street location. From next month the ophthalmic diagnostic treatment centre will also provide assessments for patients.
Clinical director and consultant ophthalmologist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Chris Blyth, explained: “The purpose-built facility provides much-needed additional capacity and will reduce congestion in the main eye clinic at the Royal Gwent Hospital. As a result, we expect waiting times and the number of delayed follow-up appointments to reduce.”
He added: “It will greatly improve the quality of service we can offer to people with some of the most common sight-threatening eye diseases in Gwent.”
Currently around 20 people a week who are suspected of having wet AMD are referred to the health board. One thousand are treated for macular degeneration every year.
It is estimated that the new service will create an additional 1600 appointments a year and will see optometrists at Specsavers provide an initial screening service before the results are reviewed virtually by a hospital-based ophthalmologist.
Specsavers co-founder, Doug Perkins, said: “This is exactly the kind of enhanced optical service that we should seek to be involved in as optometrists, using our skills to the benefit of patients and helping to ease the pressure on the hospital service.”
The centre has been developed through a collaboration between Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Specsavers in Newport city centre.