Grey’s eye clinic receives new sponsored machine

2010-06-30 00:00

GREY’S Hospital has acquired a corneal cross-linking machine, which is to be used on patients with an eye condition known as keratoconus.

The German-made machine, worth about R200 000, is produced by Peschke and is the only one of its kind in public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Grant Ladner, acting head of the Grey’s Hospital opthalmology department, said the machine uses riboflavin drops and ultraviolet light to create new bonds in the cornea. The new bonds between the connective tissue increase the cornea’s strength.

Patients with keratoconus have a weak cornea, which becomes deformed and leads to poor vision.

Said Ladner, “The machine strengthens the weak cornea and can even reverse the deformity to some degree. This is the first such system available at a provincial hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. The private health sector in the province has four or five of these machines.

“Previously we were unable to prevent this condition from progressing, and ultimately many of the patients would need corneal grafts, which are themselves scarce. Even once a patient has had the graft, the recovery process is long and there are many complications. Many patients may end up blind.

Ladner said he had approached the private sector for funding after realising it would be difficult to get state funding for such a machine when there are other much more widespread health problems.

Assmang Manganese and Hulamin paid for the corneal cross-linking machine.

Ladner said the hospital has seen between 20 and 30 patients with this condition since January 2010.

The first patient will receive treatment in the next two weeks.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the availability of the machine at Grey’s Hospital means that patients will no longer have to undergo operations.

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