Kingston Hospital’s Royal Eye Unit were on the receiving end of some state-of-the-art equipment recently that could revolutionise eye care services at the NHS trust.

Charitable funding for the Kingston Hospital Charity enabled the Royal Eye Unit to purchase an ‘Optos Silverstone ultra-wide field retinal imaging system’, making Kingston Hospital’s ophthalmology service the first in England to deploy this latest version of the Optos imaging system.

The machine specialises in capturing in great detail a large amount of information about a patients retina — up to 80 per cent in a single image, according to Optos, while traditional imaging systems for eyes can only see around 15 per cent in one image.

As such, it represents a huge step forward for eye care in the borough, and could also streamline eye care at the hospital at a time when the seasonal pressures associated with Autumn and Winter are massively compounded by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As a spokesperson for Kingston Hospital explained:

“The new ultra-wide field retinal imaging equipment allows for more comprehensive acquisition and review of images in one multimodal imaging system, increasing the efficiency and resilience of the medical retina service.

“It also provides a significantly better assessment of the retinal periphery when compared to conventional imaging of the rear of the eye.”

Kingston Hospital also pointed out that Kingston borough and neighbouring Richmond were two of the London boroughs with the highest life expectancies, with that many more patients seeking associated care for eye issues that can occur later in life as a result.

“Sight loss is closely linked to ageing and as Kingston and Richmond are two of the five boroughs with the highest life expectancy in the country, the Royal Eye Unit at Kingston Hospital is continuously seeking innovative ways to meet the needs of current and expected future patients with eye disease,” they said.

Consultant Ophthalmologist Vasuki Sivagnanavel at the Royal Eye Unit described his team’s elation at acquiring the new machine:

“We are very excited to have acquired this state-of-the-art equipment,” he said.

“As well as assisting our COVID-19 recovery plan, by clearing the backlog of routine retina activity that built up at the height of the pandemic in the spring, the more comprehensive evaluation of the retinal periphery it provides will lead to earlier diagnosis and improved patient outcomes. “I’m delighted this ultra-widefield imaging equipment is now operational and benefitting our patients,” Dr Sivagnanavel added.

Ophthalmology is the second biggest department in the NHS after Trauma and Orthopaedics.

According to one report from the Royal National Institute for the Blind, the numbers of Ophthalmology patients in England over the past five years increased year on year between 2013 and 2018.