New technology helps detect patients going blind from glaucoma

The Western Eye Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is the first hospital in the world to introduce a new software program to identify patients who are at most risk of rapidly losing their sight from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the biggest cause of irreversible blindness in the world, affecting half a million people in the UK. The disease is characterised by damage to the nerve at the back of the eye which causes peripheral vision loss and, if untreated, complete loss of sight.

Each year the Western Eye Hospital cares for around 11,000 patients with glaucoma. Peripheral vision machines are used to test patients’ sight across the hospital’s glaucoma clinics. The new software automatically analyses the information from these machines to identify which patients are at most immediate risk of losing their sight and therefore in urgent need of follow-up by surgeons.

Consultant ophthalmologists Faisal Ahmed, Laura Crawley, Professor Philip Bloom and Professor Francesca Cordeiro are using the state-of-the-art software to help them monitor all the patients in their care at the Trust, so that those who are quickly losing their sight are urgently seen. The team is also using the software to predict patients’ rate of sight loss so that those expected to lose significant sight within their lifetime can have timely intervention.

Consultant ophthalmologist Mr Ahmed said:

 “This software is revolutionising the way that we can treat and care for our patients, by helping to make sure that those who need rapid intervention to stop them going blind are seen urgently in our clinics.”