Clinicians in Southampton are among the first in the UK to trial a new device that allows them to perform vital eye and brain tests on young patients at the bedside.
Until now, it has been difficult to assess potential damage to vision caused by problems such as head trauma or side-effects of treatment as patients were required to attend a specialist laboratory for examination – something not always possible for those too unwell to leave their wards.
Now, a new piece of kit known as RETIVAL, which is hand-sized and mobile, allows clinicians at Southampton Children’s Hospital to test children at the bedside, reducing the time and stress involved when only a simple check is sufficient to determine eye health.
“This new technology not only takes the pressure off our laboratory but also allows us to pick up potential damage to a child’s sight quickly and intervene,” said Jay Self, a consultant paediatric ophthalmologist at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
“We see cases where children have gone from having good vision to losing their sight completely over a matter of weeks and yet, because of the complexity of the current lab, our waiting list can be as long as seven months for this test.
“Using RETIVAL, we can ensure those who require vision checks can be assessed quickly and easily, enabling us to ensure we can provide the best treatment as soon as possible for those at risk of losing their sight.”
The device, which cost £8,000, was funded by the Lahna Appeal, a fund of Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity set up in memory of five-month-old Lahna Tula Beatty, who died suddenly from a viral condition which led to heart failure.
Lahna’s parents, Natasha and Lance, set up the appeal to fund equipment and services to benefit paediatric services in Southampton to create a lasting legacy for their daughter – and have raised more than £90,000 for services at UHS to date.
Natasha said: “Lahna would have been eight years old now and we have been fundraising in her memory since 2009, something we are extremely proud of.
“Jay and his team are doing some amazing work and we’re delighted to have been involved in the purchase of the RETIVAL device, a quick and easy test that can detect potential damage to sight so that treatment can be given to children before it’s too late.”
For more information on Southampton Children Hospital Charity’s Lahna Appeal, visit http://www.southamptonhospitalcharity.org/Lahna-Appeal.