Moorfields announces new Trabectome procedure treatment for Glaucoma patients

Glaucoma specialists at Moorfields Eye Hospital are set to offer a micro surgery treatment resulting in faster surgery and healing times for patients undergoing cataract surgery for glaucoma.

The procedure, known as a trabectome procedure, has been widely used in the United States but now Moorfields has invested in the technology that will enable its surgeons to use the minimally invasive technique on patients from April onwards. Moorfields is one of the first hospitals in the UK to introduce the procedure.

A trabectome procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and takes between 10-15 minutes to perform. It involves the surgeon making a small incision in the affected eye and tissue being very precisely removed by an electrical pulse. The eye is then washed out with saline to remove debris.

The surgery is only mildly invasive and reduces the need for frequent daily dosages of eye drops, the use of which can be unpleasant and is often disliked by patients.

Glaucoma is one of the growing causes of blindness in the UK and is more common in the 50 plus age group. The disease, known “as the silent thief” because of the manner in which blindness creeps up on those with the condition, is traditionally treated by eye drops and the surgical procedure trabulectomy.

Mr Gus Gazzard, consultant ophthalmologist and clinical director for Moorfields South, where the procedure is being introduced, explains why it is a step forward in treating glaucoma in the UK.

“Trabectome procedures are undertaken in the early course of the disease to delay the need for more major surgery. All glaucoma patients on eye drops would potentially be eligible for this treatment although we will initially concentrate on those who need cataract surgery with which this procedure will be combined.

“This has a number of benefits for the NHS and patients, including a reduction in  drug use and fewer of the more major operations such as trabeculectomy which overall will save the NHS money in the long run. “

With World Glaucoma week fast approaching (March 10- 16) Moorfields Eye Hospital is pleased to be able to offer patients this treatment starting after Easter (29 March – 1 April).

Notes to editors

Mr Gazzard is available for interviews please contact Julia Jones  on 0207 566 2628 or 0207 5253 3411x 4251 to arrange a time and date. An illustrated photo of the procedure is also available on request.

Gus Gazzard is also currently leading a major UK study to assess whether laser treatment for glaucoma – one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide – could provide patients with a better quality of life than traditional eye drops if laser was the first form of treatment offered.

The laser in glaucoma and ocular hypertension (LIGHT) study will involve more than 700 patients who have been newly diagnosed with glaucoma and have received no prior treatment for the condition, which is caused by increased pressure in the eye ball.  It is a joint project between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the UCL PRIMENT clinical trials unit.

Moorfields is one of the world’s leading eye hospitals, providing expertise in clinical care, research and education. We have provided excellence in eye care for more than 200 years and we continue to be at the forefront of new breakthroughs and developments.  We are an integral part of one of the UK’s first academic health science centres, UCL Partners, and were one of the first NHS organisations to achieve foundation trust status in 2004.

We treat the entire range of eye diseases, from common complaints to rare conditions which require treatments not available anywhere else in the UK. We dealt with more than 475,000 patient visits in 2011/12 at our main hospital base in London’s City Road and at 19 other sites in and around the capital, enabling us to provide expert care closer to patients’ homes.

With our research partners at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, we run one of the largest ophthalmic research programmes in the world and have the highest measure of scientific productivity and impact in the world for our research activity.

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