Cataract Service At Downe Hospital Continues To Grow

The Downe Hospital cataract service is continuing to grow providing life-changing surgery for patients

The number of patients who have had Cataract Surgery carried out in the Downe Hospital has soared, with approximately 3,500 patients treated every year. 

This milestone highlights the hospital’s commitment to providing exceptional eye care services and improving the quality of life for thousands of patients.

The Downe Hospital is one of three Regional Centres across Northern Ireland carrying out Cataract Surgery along with South Tyrone Hospital and Mid-Ulster Hospital. 

Prior to the Downe Hospital being identified as a Regional Cataract Centre in 2018, three sessions per week were carried out, compared to ten sessions per week now that it is an established Regional service. 

Many patients travel across Northern Ireland to access the service. Cataract patient Patricia McAuley who travelled from Ballyclare for her life-changing procedure praised the service and the staff in the Downe Hospital. 

Surgeons at the Downe Hospital have treated 3500 patients in the past year for cataract surgery.

Patricia described her experience and said: “My experience right from when I came through the door of the hospital was amazing, I could not have been treated any better.  Miss Earley carried out the procedure and it was first class.

“For anybody suffering from Cataracts who may be hesitant about surgery, I would definitely recommend it. I am a great badminton player, so to be able to have my vision restored, it is a great bonus for me. 

“My opponents can no longer take advantage of my diminished vision by playing the shuttlecock across my bad eye!”

Day Procedure Unit Manager, Paul Reilly, said: “The South Eastern Trust has always had a relationship with Opthalmology.

“The Cataract Service has grown substantially since the Downe Hospital became a Regional Centre.  When the Regional Centres were being set up, a scoping exercise with the public was undertaken to find out how far patients would be prepared to travel. 

“As a result of the scoping exercise, three Cataract Centres were then established across Northern Ireland. 

“The position of the Downe Hospital has a huge catchment area and feedback from patients who have travelled a significant distance for their procedure, is that they are so glad to have their surgery carried out in the Downe.”

Consultant Opthalmologist, Miss Olivia Earley described the service as vital and said: “The Cataract Service in the Downe Hospital is a wonderful service and I am extremely proud of the team. 

“Blindness is a major challenge for older people, particularly as they age. 

“Not only do they lose out on everyday activities such as driving, reading, television and hobbies, having poor vision puts them at higher risk of personal injury as a result of falls and accidents which can threaten lives and also independence. 

“We see this too often with patients having to go into care homes as a result of falls and fractures.

“Cataract Surgery transforms patients’ lives, it allows them to return to carrying out the activities they love and reduces risk of injury through falls. 

“The Cataract Service in the Downe Hospital continues to attract skilled Surgeons, who along with a fabulous Nursing Team contribute to first-class care.”

Cataracts, a common condition causing clouding of the lens in the eye, can lead to significant vision impairment.

The Downe Hospital’s state-of-the-art facilities and skilled Ophthalmologists ensure that patients receive effective treatment to restore their vision.

Cataract treatment includes pre-operative consultations, advanced surgical techniques and post-operative care.

The Cataract Team supports patients through their treatment journey ensuring they understand their treatment options and feel confident in their treatment plan.

The fantastic service in the Downe Hospital is as a result of the joint team effort from the Health Care Assistants, Anaesthetists, Admin and Patient Experience as well as the Surgeons and Nursing staff.

As the demand for Cataract Surgery continues to rise, the Downe Hospital remains committed to providing specialist services and incorporating the latest advancements in ophthalmic care.