Patients welcome new "state-of-the-art" eye clinic that will help curb backlog

Thursday 27 April 2023

Patients and staff stand in the garden of Minnie Kidd House community eye clinic

Patients and staff stand in the garden of Minnie Kidd House community eye clinic

Patients waiting for eye and vision tests that could lead to sight-saving treatment have welcomed a new “state-of-the-art” NHS eye clinic in Clapham. 

Specialists from St Thomas’ Hospital eye clinic now also work at Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic to assess and monitor people with glaucoma and retinal conditions. These problems can lead to irreversible vision loss.

There is increasing demand for eye services across the whole country, made worse by a backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are working together under the South East London Acute Provider Collaborative to provide Ophthalmology Diagnostic Hubs to meet increased demand and reduce waiting times for the treatment of glaucoma and retinal conditions.

It is estimated that around 57,000 extra appointments are needed annually each year to meet the current demand for assessment and monitoring of glaucoma and medical retina conditions across south east London.

Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic is staffed by consultant ophthalmologists and ophthalmic technicians. High quality state-of-the-art equipment is used to assess visual function and the structure of the eye in detail. This allows fast and accurate assessment to make diagnoses for new patients and to monitor conditions already diagnosed.

Some patients may be identified as needing specific treatment, with laser, intraocular injections or ophthalmic surgery. These treatments are carried out at the main eye service at St Thomas’. 

David Norris, 50, the owner of a printing company from Bexley in Kent, was assessed at the Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic in January 2023. David had previously been diagnosed with retinal vein occlusions at St Thomas’ in July 2021, and was regularly monitored by the hospital team. His assessment in January showed changes in the eye that needed laser treatment. David received this treatment at St Thomas’ Hospital Outpatients in early February. 

He said: "Two years ago, I was sitting at my computer working late and noticed that the screen appeared blurry on the right hand side. I thought it was through tiredness. But when I closed my left eye I realised I couldn't see out of most of my right eye.

“I went to A&E at my local hospital in Dartford, and they treated me straight away for high blood pressure. It was extremely high at 263/157.” 

David was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital where eye specialists diagnosed a medical retina condition. One of the major veins had become blocked, causing swelling in the retina and damage to the overall blood supply. The initial treatment consisted of regular eye injections to stop fluid build-up in the back of the eye and to reduce the pressure, which worked well. 

Another consequence of vein occlusions is that the eye can start to grow new blood vessels in the retina resulting in significant problems that need laser treatment. 

New blood vessel growth in David’s right eye was detected at an assessment at Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic.

David said: “The final stage was the laser surgery which I had at St Thomas’, essentially killing off blood vessel development in the bad part of the eye that I can't see out of, as these new blood vessels can cause further issues.”

Speaking about his experience at Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic, David added: “You’re walking into a relaxed, calm environment which is brand new and welcoming. It also feels quite state-of-the art. But you are sitting [in your consultation] and you've got a window looking out on to a garden, so it feels less clinical. All the staff are really nice. The fact that it's part of St Thomas’ adds great credibility because they have such a good reputation.

“The really nice thing is that the medical professionals have time to explain the implications of the treatment, and the benefits. It makes you more comfortable with what they are planning to do for you.”

Professor Ian Abbs, Chief Executive for Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “It’s fantastic that Minnie Kidd House Community Eye Clinic is now open. This means we can care for more patients currently waiting for diagnosis or monitoring, and creates a significant opportunity to treat even more patients, with the potential of saving the sight of many people across south east London.”

Last updated: April 2023

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