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Sight risked by eye operation curbs

Friday July 1st 2011

A new report has revealed that over half of NHS trusts are curbing access to cataract surgery, posing a serious threat to people's sight.

In an effort to save money, several trusts are imposing "arbitrary" restrictions on patients who may benefit from a cataract operation.

The study found that some primary care trusts require patients to reach a specified threshold of vision loss before they receive treatment, while others allow a patient to be treated in just one eye.

In certain cases, health trusts refuse surgery even though a patient's job demands good eyesight to carry out their work.

The "visual acuity" thresholds currently being implemented by PCTs are not recommended by the Department of Health.

The official guidance says patients should have surgery if the cataract affects the individual's sight, has an impact on their quality of life, and if the patient understands the risks and agrees to surgery.

But a new report for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) says this is not happening routinely.

It is based on Freedom of Information request results from 133 PCTs in England.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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