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Clayton-le-Moors pensioner backs cataract service
2:07pm Friday 1st June 2012 in Clayton-le-Moors
A PENSIONER who has undergone cataract surgery has urged other sufferers to ‘swallow your fear’ and have the operation.
She was speaking after the health trusts in East Lancashire were praised for promptly carrying out cataract operations.
Sylvia Robinson, 75, of Clayton-le-Moors, has had two cataract operations in the past year.
The retired pub landlady first noticed a problem when she couldn’t see her bus arriving. And instead of it looking like a bright red colour, it looked a dirty brown.
She said: “I went to the opticians for some new spectacles, but he told me that I had cataracts in both eyes, that they were ‘very ripe’ and needed doing.
“I was very worried - I’d heard the tale that you’re awake during the whole procedure, and I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. But in all honesty, it was a doddle. Each eye took about 20 minutes, and you don’t feel a thing because you’re given three lots of anaesthetic drops.
“All you can see if the dark green operating gown of the surgeon, and there’s no blood because they flush your eye with water.”
Since her operations, Mrs Robinson no longer needs glasses for distance.
Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People showed over half of England’s 152 NHS trusts had imposed their own criteria - tougher than national standards - for cataract operations. The charity said it meant patients were left to wait until their sight problems deteriorated before getting help.
But in East Lancashire, trusts have said they look at clinical need, not eligibility criteria. Last year 2,746 operations were carried out at a cost of up to £917 each. Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens that distort vision. The operation involves a tiny cut in the cornea, a small probe to break the cataract up, and when it is completely gone, a plastic lens is inserted.
Debbie Nixon of NHS Blackburn with Darwen Care Trust Plus, said: “We commission services on the basis of clinical need rather than eligibility criteria. We are not changing our commissioning plan for cataract treatment.”
A spokesman for NHS East Lancashire said: “NHS East Lancashire places no limits on patients referred for surgery for the removal of cataracts.
“As long as the patient has been diagnosed as clinically appropriate for surgery, and that they meet local criteria which is line with national guidance, then the primary care trust does not place any restrictions.”