The doors of a brand new Optegra NHS cataract clinic are now open following the official ‘cutting of the ribbon’.

In an event attended by optometrists from all the CCGs in the region as well as representatives from the Northumberland and Tyne & Wear Local Optical Committee (LOC), the new Optegra Eye Clinic Newcastle is now providing diagnostic testing and treatment of cataracts.

One in three adults affected by cataract, the natural, age-related clouding of the lens of the eye, combined with delayed treatments from the pandemic means that waiting lists are at an all-time high.

Throughout the North East region, local CCG stats show that average wait for cataract treatment in the areas is 71.8 weeks – well over a year.  To help tackle this, the Optegra clinic will only treat NHS cataract patients.

The Worshipful Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Dot Burnett praises the launch of the new clinic and said: “We are delighted to welcome Optegra into the North East region with their intention of supporting the thousands of patients who are awaiting essential cataract treatment.

“As an ongoing impact from the pandemic, these waiting lists are inevitably longer than ever, and I am so pleased that local people can now access their treatment more quickly, with the support of this dedicated eye clinic, which is solely offering NHS treatment.

“This clinic will also be a great support to local optometrists and GPs to help direct their patients to quicker treatment which will make a huge difference to their quality of life.”

The new state-of-the-art clinic found at Units 1-3 Maingate, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, houses treatment rooms, surgical theatre with latest technologies, and recovery rooms.

Every aspect of the hospital has been created with the patient in mind with clinical and non-clinical areas to create a relaxed, comfortable environment and guiding patients throughout the treatment journey.  Treatments will be led by consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Usman Mahmood.

Richard Armitage, NHS Director for Optegra, said: “We are proud of the new clinic which offers the same five-star quality of all the Optegra hospitals and clinics throughout the UK.  As specialists purely in eye care, we are able to invest in the very latest technologies, excellent clinical teams and surgeons who are leaders in their field.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for cataract patients in the North East to be able to request referral here, and as a result, not only reduce their waiting times for treatment but also enjoy the very finest of facilities and excellent medical outcomes.

“In fact, even if they are already on waiting lists for other healthcare providers, patients can go back to their GP or optometrists and request to be referred to us, to speed up the process.”

North East born and bred Marie Priest is the new Clinic Manager for Optegra Eye Clinic Newcastle, says: “We have an exceptional team here at the clinic who are caring, compassionate and all dedicated to the highest of standards.  Now we are officially open we look forward to welcoming our patients over the coming weeks and months, so that they can have this life-changing and life-improving procedure at the earliest opportunity.

“Not only does cataract surgery improve vision, our patients tell us it dramatically improves quality of life and independence.”

Optegra Eye Clinic is now open to patients and you can find more information by visiting www.optegra.com/newcastle.

Local people can also learn more about eye health in general by downloading the free Vision of Britain report – an insight into all things eye health -the latest trends, treatment options and advice to keep eyes healthy.

Optegra Eye Clinic Newcastle is part of Optegra Eye Health Care and is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services. Established in 2006, we have completed over one million eye procedures from our 34 eye hospitals and clinics across the UK, Czech Republic and Poland.

We bring together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment.  We perform more than 100,000 treatments annually, both private and publicly funded. Our top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes and great patient service.