New NHS sight-saving service launches in Shepton Mallet

1st August 2022, Practice Plus Group Hospital, Shepton Mallet today announced the launch of a new Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD) service, aimed at treating people with the sight-threatening condition living in the Somerset area. The service will help the recovery of local hospital eye services and ensure the continued delivery of timely, safe and effective treatment.

Wet AMD affects more than 600,000 people in the UK. According to the Macular Society, almost 1.5 million people across the country are affected by macular disease making it the nation’s leading cause of vision loss in adults. Delivered by Practice Plus Group, this new service will provide quick and effective treatment for people from the Somerset area. These patients will have been referred either by their GP or their optician for Wet AMD, diabetic macular oedema or retinal vein occlusions. A fast referral is of vital importance in the treatment of Wet AMD, as even a few days’ delay can have serious consequences for vision quality. With that in mind, the new service will see patients offered an appointment within 72 hours of referral and treated by specialist nurses overseen by an ophthalmology consultant team.

Optometrist studies a patient's eyes
Optometrist studies a patient’s eyes

Alison Edwards, Practice Plus Group’s Medical Director at the hospital, explained:

“Wet AMD is caused when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macular area, which is responsible for central vision. Blood or fluid can leak from these vessels, causing scarring and rapid loss of vision. The good news is that, with prompt treatment, deterioration can be stopped in its tracks and a person’s sight saved. We urge referrers to act quickly upon discovering any symptoms for Wet AMD. This disease only deteriorates the vision and we want to help stop this.”

The service is based out of the Shepton Mallet Practice Plus Group Hospital which has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Practice Plus Group’s Hospital Director for Shepton Mallet, Catherine Farr said:

“Patients come to us at a point in their lives when they are feeling particularly vulnerable. They may have started to lose their central vision, with all the attendant concern that this can bring. Our clinical teams help to overcome our patients’ anxiety by bringing our service closer to them and by arranging appointments at times to suit the patient to improve accessibility of clinical services in a friendly and welcoming environment.”

The service will be provided at the hospital-based site in Practice Plus Group Hospital, Shepton Mallet, Old Wells Road, Somerset, BA4 4LP.