A clearer vision for treating a serious eye condition

Research led by Newcastle Hospitals could help surgeons to decide the most effective way to treat patients with a serious eye condition.

Miss Roxane Hillier, a consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at the RVI’s Newcastle Eye Centre, and team of researchers, set out to compare two types of surgery used to treat a detached retina.

A detached retina happens when the retina – a thin sheet of cells at the back of your eye that senses light and allows you to see – pulls away from the tissue around it. The condition needs to be treated with surgery to avoid permanent damage to eyesight.

There are different ways of reattaching the retina. One type of surgery involves keyhole surgery to remove the jelly that fills the eye, and insertion of a large gas bubble, known as vitrectomy, and another involves placing a silicone band around the eye to push the eye’s wall closer to the retina, known as a scleral buckle.

A third method, used infrequently in the UK but popular in some other parts of the world uses a small bubble of gas which is injected into the eye to gently reattach the retina (called pneumatic retinopexy).

Best outcomes for patients

Miss Hillier led on three different studies with researchers in Canada and the UK to explore which surgical technique has the best outcomes for patients.

Their research suggests that pneumatic retinopexy should be considered by surgeons as the first-line option for treating certain types of retinal detachment, as it offers better visual outcomes than vitrectomy. Pneumatic retinopexy was also associated with more complete retinal recovery and better patient-reported satisfaction scores.

Funding for further research

Following a successful application for £150,000 from the National Institute for Health and Care Research, Miss Hillier and her team at Newcastle University will now look at how the research findings could help vitreoretinal surgeons to choose the best treatment for patients with the condition.  

This research will look at the cost-effectiveness of the different surgical options for retinal detachment in the context of the NHS. Alongside the economic analysis, surgeons, patients and hospital managers will be interviewed about their opinions and experiences, to gain a full picture about what influences the choice of one surgical technique over another.

Miss Hillier, who is also an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, said:

“Our previous research has demonstrated that the choice of surgical technique can influence the visual outcome. Our forthcoming study will go a step further to assess which technique makes best use of healthcare resources and consider patient and healthcare provider perspectives regarding the use of alternative surgical techniques.”

For more information on the three different studies led by Miss Hillier and researchers in Canada and the UK, visit the below links:

PIVOT

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30468761/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32556156/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33885738/

INTEGRITY

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32324204/

ALIGN

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34929256/

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