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NHS Scotland must maintain its focus on vital ophthalmology innovation NEWS Header Template

World Glaucoma Week is helping raise awareness while inspiring Scottish innovation

4 minutes
Posted: 18-March-2024

NHS Scotland staff with a vision for ophthalmic innovation are being encouraged to use World Glaucoma Week (10-16 March) as their focus for inspiring lasting change

Last year, charity Sight Scotland reported that around 188,000 people in Scotland are affected by some form of sight loss – and that figure is expected to double by 2031 with glaucoma considered to be the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness.

A new national NHS service in Scotland called the Community Glaucoma Service (CGS) was recently introduced, providing a new means by which patients who have lower risk glaucoma or ocular hypertension, and who have been under the care of the Hospital Eye Service, could be discharged to receive care from CGS accredited providers in the community.

However, ophthalmic innovation from within NHS Scotland can yet unlock more solutions amid an increasing number of treatments for glaucoma patients, including fresh laser-led and minimally invasive procedures.

Glaucoma, a disease of the optic nerve, tends to occur very gradually, so the patient is often unaware they are affected until substantial vision has been lost.

Enhancing awareness, in tandem with regular eye tests, is therefore vital – and so World Glaucoma Week is a key annual event for encouraging better preventative understanding.

Organised by the World Glaucoma Association, the week’s 2024 theme is Uniting for a Glaucoma-Free World’ which will focus on bringing communities together worldwide to fight against glaucoma blindness.

“Our goal is to alert everyone to have regular eye and optic nerve checks to detect glaucoma as early as possible because there are available treatments for all forms of glaucoma to prevent visual loss,” said the World Glaucoma Association.

Although vision already lost from glaucoma cannot be restored, there are effective treatments to preserve remaining vision – and formal NHS partner InnoScot Health believes that further breakthroughs can be made in not just discovering new treatments but helping to offset the debilitating condition.

Head of Innovation at InnoScot Health, Robert Rea said: “Progressive-minded NHS Scotland staff can be instrumental in the drive for new ophthalmic breakthroughs, in turn helping to stop glaucoma in its tracks.

“Indeed, high-quality, inclusive eyecare during this pivotal time of recovery and reform can undoubtedly improve patient outcomes and deliver new treatment options.

“World Glaucoma Week is an opportune time for innovators at all stages to consider current approaches while looking to identify fresh ideas. It is clear ophthalmology is an area that is ripe for innovation, and encouraging staff to think about improvements could lead to real advances in patient treatment and care, but also early diagnosis of other life-changing conditions such as glaucoma.

“There are so many possibilities – from predictive artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to further advancing remote triaging through telehealth. One exciting example of developing technologies that can detect glaucoma is the anticipated ability to analyse the daily fluctuations of intraocular pressure (IOP) through innovations such as smart contact lenses which can transmit data from the eye to a mobile phone or cloud system.

“It is important to remember though that innovation doesn’t have to be technologically sophisticated. It can also be simple ideas that do more with less, inspired by the vast knowledge accrued by staff working tirelessly every day.”

He added: “Glaucoma remains one of ophthalmology’s biggest challenges, but InnoScot Health is here to support NHS staff in their ambitions to realise meaningful change and make improvements in this priority area for better patient care.

“Scotland’s forward-thinking workforce should feel empowered to make a vital contribution to an eye-opening future.”

InnoScot Health is seeking forward-thinking ophthalmic solutions that can help support the health service to strengthen.

We believe that the health service’s expert ophthalmologists, alongside those in support roles, are best placed to identify where unmet medical needs and bottlenecks in clinical ophthalmology lie while potentially offering key solutions in a rapidly evolving area.

Encouraging NHS Scotland’s diverse workforce to come up with new ideas that achieve better outcomes in pressured ophthalmology is vital and at the heart of InnoScot Health’s latest innovation call.

The call offers a package of support to health and social care staff, including advice and guidance in such areas as intellectual property protection, regulation, funding, project management, and commercialisation, to a value of £25,000 initially.

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Our Support

The behaviours of NHS Scotland’s 160,000-strong workforce will influence how the service mitigates and adapts to ophthalmic backlogs and heightened pressures; and so, encouraging this diverse workforce to come up with new ways of working is vital.

The package of support for health and social care staff with ideas to support NHS Scotland includes £25,000 of initial funding, regulatory support, project management and the innovation expertise of InnoScot Health.


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InnoScot Health works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop and commercialise new innovations from healthcare professionals. Registered Number: SC 236303. Registered address: 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JR
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