People living in Ayrshire and Arran who have some of the most common forms of avoidable sight loss will now be able to benefit from a new facility designed specifically for the eye service through a partnership between Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK and the NHS.
The new facility is designed to support the treatment of patients with age-related macular degeneration - a painless eye condition that causes loss of central vision - and aims to address over-capacity of eye care services in the area, caused by an ageing population.
In 2010, the percentage of population over 65 years was 19 percent in Ayrshire and Arran and this is projected to increase to 30 percent by 2035, placing unprecedented demand on an already-stretched system.
Under a joint working project, Novartis and NHS Ayrshire & Arran developed a solution to transform eye services in the region by building a dedicated extension on to the existing Ophthalmology Outpatient Department, to offer a one-stop clinic for patients and ensure they are seen within the appropriate timeframe.
"We know the numbers of people requiring macular treatment is increasing as people are living longer," noted Dr Mohan Varikkara, consultant ophthalmologist at University Hospital Ayr. "This new extension and additional staff will ensure we are able to treat more patients and offer us the ability to provide an intravitreal therapy service which prevents eye degeneration and potential sight loss."
Novartis said the partnership is part of its ongoing commitment to work with the NHS to understand and address the challenges facing eye care services across the UK. "By utilising an outcomes-based approach, we are able to deliver greater accessibility and sustainability of care for patients," the firm noted.