Patients at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton are now benefitting from a state-of-the-art eye scanner.
The £153,000 Heidelberg machine, generously donated by the Friends of the Friarage, will speed up diagnosis and save patients having to travel to other hospitals.
The leading-edge technology uses an imaging technique called optical coherence tomography to scan the back of the eye, producing highly detailed images that enable consultants to investigate different layers of the retina.
Advanced features show up abnormalities that would not be visible to the naked eye and will help diagnose conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye problems at the earliest possible stage.
It also performs extremely accurate scans of optic discs in the eye, enabling consultants to see exactly how far conditions such as glaucoma have progressed.
The Heidelberg can also be used for cornea scans at the front of the eye and for fluorescein angiograms – a procedure in which a fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream to highlight the blood vessels in the back of the eye so they can be photographed or, in this case, seen on video.
Kay Henderson, Ophthalmic Associate Practitioner Manager said it has revolutionised the way staff work.
“Patients are much happier as they don’t have to travel further afield,” she said. “Especially those who cannot drive themselves.
“The Heidelberg is a pleasure to use and the scans and images it produces are really impressive. It’s just amazing what you can see on the camera.”
Dr Upendra Somasundram, Co-chairman of the Friends of the Friarage said: “The Friends of the Friarage are committed to supporting the development of a comprehensive ophthalmology department at the Friarage Hospital.
“The Heidelberg machine costing £153,000 and the patient management system costing £25,000 are the first two instalments which we are delighted to donate and we will fundraise for other equipment as required.”
Beryl Larder of Northallerton was one of the first patients to use the machine. She said: “It’s excellent that we have got this facility here at the Friarage. The service here is wonderful.”
Ophthalmologist Philip Severn added: “The Friarage Heidelberg will be a great asset to the ophthalmology department. The new machine has functions that are far superior to any we have used before across the Trust.
“It will also allow us to offer research opportunities to local people closer to home.”