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The Co Durham eye mask that can stop you going blind – ITV News

A mask which could prevent blindness has been voted as one of the most important innovations in the world.

It was developed in County Durham and will be available in pharmacies from next month.

It has been proven to help diabetics who might eventually lose their sight in the future. Around 150 thousand who are living in our region.
Lorraine has been living with diabetes for five decades, but recently her eyesight began to suffer.

She was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, a gradual loss of sight that would eventually cause her to go blind.

But she has been part of a trial using a special face mask, and has now her sight has been given the all clear by doctors.

There are a lot of side effects of diabetes but I think one of them that bothers people a lot is losing your sight.

With retinopathy you will eventually go blind it affects your peripheral vision and eventually you can’t drive.

I live right in the middle of the sticks I’ve got to be able to drive. I like playing the piano I enjoy sewing I like doing craft work anything like that that involves your sight really you can’t do it without. It’s changed my life – for the better.

– Lorraine Helliwell

It has been developed at NET park in County Durham.

The mask emits a green light which the patient is not aware of and it works by allowing more oxygen into their eyes so their sight doesn’t deteriorate further.

But it does not affect sleep.

The mask is a bit of a game changer. It’s important because the existing treatments are either based around a laser intervention which is basically cauterising the retina and you run out of area to keep treating and that leads to a lot of peripheral vision.

It’s a dreadful disease – more than that it’s a tsunami of cost facing the NHS.

There are 280,000 new patients registered every year. To put that in context it’s the population of Newcastle going onto the diabetic register every single year and in many ways this is the manufacturing of the future – this is the next generation.

– Richard Kirk, PolyPhotonix

Diabetes is one of the most common causes of blindness and it is predicted this mask could save the NHS almost a billion pounds.

That will only be proved once it is rolled out, beginning in pharmacies next month. It will now be showcased at an exhibition of 100 objects that changed the world in London.

But Lorraine says even if it changes one person’s life, the gift of sight is priceless.

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