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Highland patients have quicker route to cataract treatment following £1m investment by Optical Express in Inverness

By Calum MacLeod

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Optical Express ophthalmic surgeon David Teenan with a patient.
Optical Express ophthalmic surgeon David Teenan with a patient.

Patients in the Highland capital can now access vital cataract surgery more easily after a major investment by Optical Express.

Over £1 million has been invested to upgrade and expand its Inverness clinic and vastly improve access to eye care in the Highlands.

The additional capacity for cataract surgery will provide a significant boost for local NHS services and patients facing unprecedented waiting lists due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Patients in Scotland routinely face waits of up to 12 months for NHS cataract surgery, and in extreme cases procedures have been delayed over two years.

Cataracts generally affect older people, and community optometrists report that they are increasingly seeing their patients develop dense, more difficult to treat cataracts as a result of prolonged waiting times.

These complications are severely limiting people’s vision, having a knock-on impact on their ability to enjoy life, and potentially leading them to need more critical treatment. There is also a negative impact on people’s mental health as their confidence can suffer due to their poor eye sight.

Left untreated, cataracts can cause blindness.

Optical Express’s state of the art clinic in Inverness now has the capacity to treat hundreds of patients each month.

Ophthalmic surgeon David Teenan, who began treating the first patients this week, said: “As we enter the third year of the pandemic, patients in Scotland are reporting concerning waiting times for vital procedures such as cataract surgery. Increased waits have a negative impact on patients’ physical and mental health, as they can lead to inactivity and conditions such as depression.

“Patients facing significant waits for cataract surgery should undergo regular eye tests to track the condition and ensure they are living as safely as possible in the circumstances, particularly if they drive regularly.

“It has been a privilege to treat the first of many patients in Inverness this month. On an individual level, these patients will be able to return to their normal way of life with full confidence in their sight. It’s great news for the city too, as the extra cataract surgery capacity provided by Optical Express will help to alleviate pressures on the NHS here at this critical time.”

Optical Express ophthalmic surgeon David Teenan at work.
Optical Express ophthalmic surgeon David Teenan at work.

Optical Express founder and chief executive David Moulsdale commented: “This major investment in our Inverness clinic will be welcomed by local patients and NHS services alike.

"Our community optometrists are reporting worrying trends in cataracts patients across the UK, with many facing long waits for NHS surgery. This additional capacity in Inverness, with the clinic able to treat hundreds of patients each month, is great news for the city and will provide local patients with greater independence and choice.”

Tracey Forret was one of the first patients treated at the upgraded clinic.

She said: “The staff are kind and welcoming, nothing is too much trouble. The surgery staff were efficient and friendly, made sure I was looked after.”

The new investment builds on Optical Express’s 15-year history in Inverness.

The Optical Express clinic in Inverness provides more sustainable vision correction options such as laser eye surgery and lens surgery, and offers a contact lens recycling facility to all members of the public.

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