An eye clinic in Gaywood which has helped to improve the eyesight of thousands of people marked a special milestone this week.
The Norfolk Surgical and Diagnostic Centres (NSDC) cataract clinic at Gayton Road Health Centre on Wednesday celebrated 20 years of performing cataract surgery in the community.
During that time more than 6,600 cataracts have been carried out enabling people to enjoy quality of vision once again.
Mr John Bolger and the late Dr David Bartlett launched the service on February 22, 1996. Dr Bartlett was a Lynn GP who specialised in ophthalmology and was instrumental in setting up the first cataract day surgery in a GP setting in England.
As Chief Medical Officer in Anguilla in the Leeward Islands in the 1970s, Dr Bartlett witnessed how cataracts were performed outside of hospitals, which led him to pioneering the service with his GP practice. The launch helped to increase patient choice, lessen pressure on over-stretched hospital facilities plus reduce patient waiting times which were up to two years from point of referral at the launch in 1996.
Today waiting times are just a matter of weeks at the NSDC eye clinic.
Mr Bolger, ophthalmic surgeon at the NSDC clinic at Gayton Road, has performed more than 38,000 cataract procedures and was one of the first surgeons to introduce modern cataract surgery in Britain.
He said: “The success of the NSDC eye clinic here in Lynn paved the way for other walk-in clinics in the UK. The clinic has gone from strength to strength. At launch we ran a monthly cataract clinic, now it is held each Wednesday with an occasional Saturday clinic.
“Frank Dobson, the former Health Minister recognised this innovative approach to cataract surgery when he presented us with an Award for Medical Innovation in 1998.” Mr Bolger said one the greatest achievements for the clinical team, is the high level of patient satisfaction.
In October a NSDC patient survey revealed that 98 per cent of patients rated the quality of treatment as either “excellent” or “good” with 99 per cent saying they were either “extremely likely” or “likely” to recommendd NSDC to family and friends.
Cataracts are part of the aging process and usually affect people who are aged 65 or over. A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. If left untreated, it can cause progressive loss of vision and even blindness. Many cataract patients say colours are brighter, images are sharper and they suffer less light glare.