League of friends fund patients’ amazing sight-saving eye surgery

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THE same technology that guides “smart” bombs to their target enables surgeons at Bexhill Hospital to make 20 sight-saving holes in a patient’s eye in a milli-second.

The new specialist eye surgery department established in the Jethro Arscott Day Surgery Unit is treating up to seven patients per list and does nine sessions a week.

That equates to 184 people treated in January and 158 so far this month, members of the League of Friends of Bexhill Hospital were told at a photo-call on Tuesday evening.

The last of the day’s patients had just left after receiving their eye surgery as consultant ophthalmologists Pieter Gouws and Peter Gregory and matron Lesley Carter and their team gave the officers and committee members under their chairman Cllr Stuart Earl a conducted tour.

The League of Friends has given more than £592,000 to equip the unit.

The latest £30,000 item was agreed only last Thursday. Lesley Carter has already placed an order for it.

The League is likely to be asked for more help.

The new unit has built up quickly since opening in August but needs to expand still further to keep pace with demand.

Each new advance makes it possible to save the sight of more people.

The party was shown first the recovery ward – a plaque on the wall reminding members that the League funded the establishment of the Jethro Arscott Unit for general day surgery in 1992.

The recovery room’s suite of specialised patient chairs are among its latest gifts.

Mr Gouws and Matron Carter explained how arriving day patients were given a check-over before receiving preparatory drops in their eyes.

The pace of each treatment list is such that Mr Gouws or Mr Gregory would already be scrubbing-up and reading the patient’s notes as the previous patient progressed to the recovery ward and the next was wheeled into the operating theatre.

The theatre itself is dominated by the bulk of its Leica microscope.

This features a large monitor screen giving the surgeon a detailed picture of the patient’s eye.

In turn, the visitors were shown a succession of the latest high-tech equipment made possible by generous bequests by League supporters.

They learned how one example of laser technology is aiding cataract sufferers – another those with glaucoma.

Computer technology means that data on the condition of the eye obtained by equipment in one room is available to the surgeon in the adjoining theatre.

Mr Gouws told the league members: “Thank you for your continued support because without you we could not expand.

“We need to expand. We cannot stagnate – the numbers are too big.”

“Already, the day surgery team have their sights set on adjacent under-used space.

“What I would like to see is patients arriving at the front door and progress right through to the treatment area.”

The League chairman told him: “We are so grateful to you for all you do for the residents of Bexhill.

“Thank you so much for your skills.

“We get such pleasure out of providing this equipment but if you were not here it would be of no use at all.”