Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin calls for urgent action on preventable sight loss

Dudley North MP Ian Austin is calling for the Government to ensure vital sight saving treatment is accessible to patients in England.

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Austin has been supporting local constituent Elaine Shaw, who suffers from the eye condition Myopic CNV, a sight condition caused by extreme shortsightedness which affects patient’s central vision.

He has been working with the Macular Society and the RNIB to campaign for quicker access to treatment to prevent people going blind.

People who suffer from the uncommon condition are often given a drug called Lucentis, but the eyes often stop responding after repeated injections and patients then need to be switched to another drug called Eyelea instead.

Elaine, a 58-year-old home tutor, has been treated with Lucentis injections but these are no longer effective in treating her condition. In Wales, Scotland, and other countries Elaine would have been immediately switched onto Eyelea.

Austin has welcomed a recent final positive recommendation from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for Eylea to be made available to treat myopic CNV in England but raised concerns about NICE Guidelines that often prevent treatment for some macular conditions until a patient’s sight has been irreversibly damaged.

The previous restrictions on access to Eyelea to treat myopic CNV in England and the current “too good to treat” guidelines that are applied to some macular conditions such as AMD has led to eye health treatments often being hard to access or withheld until a person’s sight is 6 out of 12 or worse on the eye chart scale, making them partially blind.

This has a huge personal impact on patients and their families but also creates additional costs to the government through people with the condition being unable to carry on working. People with myopic CNV are often younger than those with AMD and many are in work.

Austin raised concerns during Health Questions in the House of Commons and urged the Minister to meet with Mrs Shaw, the Macular Society and the RNIB to discuss ways to improve NHS eye care and reduce preventable sight loss.

Ian Austin said:

“Elaine came to see me and I was appalled to discover that people in her position were being denied quick treatment that could save their sight. I’ve been campaigning to get these drugs made available and I’m pleased we seem to be making some progress, but I want the drugs made available immediately. This is how politics should work. When local people raise issues like this, it’s up to their local MP to get stuck in and demand changes.”

Elaine Shaw said:

"I can't express how relieved I am to know that Eyelea is soon to be available for Myopic CNV in England and this is fantastic news. I also know that delays in accessing sight-saving treatment are still happening and we need to tackle the causes so that we can stop this needless loss of sight once and for all. There is still a lot of work to be done"

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