Focusing in: Optegra on adjusting over the past few years

OT  spoke to the eye care provider about the effects of the pandemic and growing waiting lists for cataract surgery

Optegra has seen a period of adjustment over the past two years, reacting to the challenges of the pandemic and rising demand.

Speaking to OT on a tour of the flagship hospital in Queen Anne Street, London, Amir Hamid, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and medical director for Optegra, shared: “Optegra has gone through a change over the last few years, particularly affected by the pandemic. We used to try to be the A-Z of all eye care, but we’ve decided that we would be more effective, and able to serve our patients better, by focusing on a few things.”

Dr Peter Byloos, Optegra CEO, described the challenges the team has faced in the past two years, both from the pandemic and in clinical staffing, with a nurse shortage across Europe.

Reacting to the pandemic, Optegra standardised its pathways and reopened “relatively quickly,” Byloos said, introducing virtual consultations and pre-operation assessments over the phone.

Hamid said this took some time, training and adjustment and it was challenging to begin with, “but what made it really rewarding was that the patients really took to it.”

The Optegra team also highlighted the “massive” impact the pandemic has had on cataract procedure waiting lists, with Hamid noting that patients “have been waiting a long time.”

With the NHS struggling to cope with the level of demand, and cataract surgery suitable to be carried out in a day care setting, Byloos described a shift in the market to outsource cataract surgery.

In November, Optegra opened a new clinic in Newcastle to provide diagnostic testing and treatment of cataracts. The clinic will only treat NHS cataract patients. 

The new clinic is expected to see more than 2500 patients for cataract surgery this year, Byloos said, adding: “Initially, we thought it would be open for one or two days for cataract surgery, and one or two days for initial clinics. At the moment, we think we’ll be open for five days a week.”

With strong industry partnerships, Hamid shared that Optegra is able to implement new techniques and technologies at its facilities, including the new Zeiss Visumax 800 laser and the SMILE Pro keyhole procedure.

Sharing his experience with the new technology, Alex Shortt, consultant ophthalmic surgeon for Optegra, said: “We’re really enjoying using it, but patients are enjoying it too because the treatment times with this machine are so quick.”

OT takes a tour of Optegra’s Queen Anne Street hospital to discuss the pandemic, cataract waiting lists, and new technologies