HUDDERSFIELD’s eye clinic is breaking new ground by taking part in two pioneering research projects for glaucoma.
Eye patients who attend Huddersfield Royal Infirmary are among only a handful across the globe to be given the chance to try out new treatments for the condition – which is found in 2% of people over the age of 40.
Glaucoma – known as the ‘silent thief’ of sight – comes when the optic nerve within the eye is damaged, causing loss of vision.
A dozen Huddersfield patients have volunteered to take part in the first study – the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study (UKGTS).
They will join 500 across the country taking part in research – headed by the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust is one of 11 eye hospitals to test the success of eye drop treatment for early stage glaucoma.
Some of the patients received active eye drops while others were given inactive drops. The effects will now be monitored for two years.
The HRI clinic is also taking part in an international study involving 16 UK and eight east Asian sites.
The project – Effectiveness of Cataract Extraction in Angle-closure Glaucoma (EAGLE) – is being hosted by the trust in association with researchers from the University of Aberdeen.
The aim of the study is to find out whether removing the lens of the eye and replacing it with a synthetic lens is a better form of treatment than laser surgery and drops.
The Medical Research Council is funding the research along with a grant from the West Yorkshire Local Comprehensive Research Network.
Mr Nitin Anand, consultant ophthalmologist at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, is leading both studies locally.
He said: “The results will give us valuable information about the treatment of glaucoma and I would like to thank all patients involved in the trials.”
The trust’s medical director, Dr Yvette Oade, added: “Taking part in the trials is a great endorsement of Mr Anand’s renowned expertise in glaucoma and the excellent reputation of our ophthalmology department.”
Around 500,000 people are affected by glaucoma in England and Wales, with more than 70m worldwide.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
It can destroy up to 40% of a person’s eyesight before they even realise.
It is estimated half of glaucoma sufferers are unaware they actually have the condition.