A pioneering Ophthalmic Diagnostic Treatment Centre (ODTC) for Gwent people suffering from an age-related eye condition is being launched at Specsavers in Newport in a bid to reduce waiting times for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Wet AMD screening
The centre is the first of its kind in the UK to see a high street opticians provide initial screening and referrals for people with symptoms of Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD), and for NHS staff to deliver treatment for the condition from the same high street location.
With funding from the Welsh Government, the new ODTC centre, titled ‘Austin Friars Eye Treatment Centre’ has been developed through collaboration between Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Specsavers, Newport City Centre.
Wet AMD affects the macula at the back of a person’s eye and, if left untreated, can cause vision to deteriorate within days(i). Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) target for the first treatment of Wet AMD is 14 days, however, waiting times in Gwent could be reduced due to improved access.
Craig MacKenzie, store optometrist director at Specsavers in Newport, said: ‘The speed that someone receives treatment for Wet AMD is absolutely crucial. Damage to the macula can permanently distort a person’s ability to see detail and colour, which is why the launch of the new treatment centre is such a significant partnership.
‘By bringing primary and secondary healthcare providers together to deliver clinical assessments and treatments in a community setting, more patients will benefit because of reduced waiting times and its central Newport location.’
Currently around 20 people a week who are suspected to have wet AMD are referred to the Health Board, 1,000 people are treated for Macular Degeneration every year.
The service will create an additional 1,600 appointments a year and sees Specsavers’ optometrists provide an initial screening service, the results of which will be reviewed virtually by a hospital-based ophthalmologist to speed up the process of diagnosis and referral for treatment.
The Health Board will continue to have Wet AMD clinics at Neville Hall and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr hospitals, but patients who would have been previously referred to the Royal Gwent Hospital will instead be seen at the purpose built ‘Austin Friars Eye Treatment Centre’.