Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley woman meets government Minister in campaign for preventable sight loss

Dudley sight-loss campaigner Elaine Shaw is meeting Health Minister Steve Brine tomorrow to push for government action to ensure vital sight saving treatment is accessible to patients in England.

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Dudley North MP Ian Austin has been backing Elaine’s campaign for quicker access to treatment to prevent people going blind – demanding action in Parliament and arranging tomorrow’s meeting. She suffers from the eye condition Myopic CNV.

Tuesday’s meeting with Health Minister Steve Brine MP will press for urgent action to address the causes of avoidable sight loss in ophthalmology services

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 that Elaine is in Parliament this week to meet with Minister Steve Brine MP so she can tell him about her campaign. 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:

"Progress has been made but I 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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