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Manchester patients first to take part in global eye study

The study, led by Mr Niall Patton, Consultant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, aims to build on existing safety and effectiveness data for ocriplasmin, a treatment for some people with the rare eye condition, vitreomacular traction.

AtriumVitreomacular traction (VMT) occurs when the vitreous, the gel-like substance in the eye, pulls abnormally on the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye, which is responsible for processing visual images. The pulling of the gel disturbs the retina, causing swelling and distorted vision, and sometimes a hole in the macular area. It can occur as a result of ageing and may result in the loss of central vision.  In 2009/10, there were around 16,000 vitrectomy hospital admissions in England1.

Ocriplasmin, which is administered via single injection into the eye, was approved for use in the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence last year.  This study is part of an international study, which by recruiting 3000 patients, aims to build on existing research by identifying which patients will benefit most from receiving ocriplasmin as a treatment for VMT. The study will also monitor any side effects associated with the injection. The delivery of the study was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network.

The Royal Manchester Eye Hospital recruited the first patients in the world to take part in the study.  The patients taking part in the study are those who have been offered treatment with ocriplasmin, as part of their routine care.  They will visit the hospital four times within a 12-month period and undertake the usual assessments.

The value that this study brings is being able to collate and analyse the data globally, to identify trends that could help better treat patients with vitreomacular traction in the future.

Mr John Whittaker, the first patient recruited into global study said: "I first became aware that I had a problem with my sight when I attended a routine optician appointment.  I couldn't see properly through my right eye.  Since the injection I can see more clearly through that eye, and I'm pleased that I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study that will help doctors to better understand my condition."

Mr Niall Patton, Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon, who is leading the study at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust explains: "By learning more about ocriplasmin, we can better target the right treatment to the right patient.  At Manchester Royal Eye Hospital research is central to our hospital being able to deliver continual improvements in its services for patients.

"Ocriplasmin enables us to improve outcomes for some patients with a single injection, where previously surgery may have been the only solution.  Our patients have an important part to play in research, because without them it simply would not be possible to gather the knowledge required to develop new medicines," he adds.