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Sedgefield firm’s light therapy masks help treat diabetic retinopathy during Covid-19

A consultant surgeon at Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Hospital near London has found that treating the eyes of diabetic patients with an eye mask created by Sedgefield firm, PolyPhotonix, may stabilise and even improve central diabetic retinopathy changes.

PolyPhotonix is a biophotonic research company developing healthcare solutions in therapeutics, diagnostics and imaging, using photonics as an enabling solution.

Established in 2009, the company is currently focused on light therapy treatments for macular eye disease and has successfully brought its first medical device to market.

The Noctura 400 Sleep Mask is an innovative, non-invasive and monitored home care treatment developed by the NETPark firm.

The eye cover, developed thanks to £14m of taxpayers’ funding, delivers light therapy to sleeping patients, with bosses saying it can transform eye disease treatment in diabetes sufferers.

It is programmed to administer a certain dose of light of a particular wavelength each night to maintain or improve diabetic eye changes and a patient’s vision.

The introduction of the mask hopes to save the NHS £1b compared to current pharmaceutical treatments.

Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling has been conducting a UK Government funded study using the Noctura 400 Sleep Mask.

The study showed that 94 percent of all patients who correctly used the mask showed significant stabilisation and sometimes even improvement of the central diabetic maculopathy and vision with some patients seeing a reverse of their condition.

Current treatments for diabetic retinopathy are laser treatment and/or injections of anti-VEGF pharmaceuticals directly into the eye.

These treatments are expensive, require substantial clinician time and need patients to attend a hospital on a regular basis.

Mr Meyer-Bothling said; “It has been encouraging how well most of the patients in the study have responded to wearing the mask, I am hopeful, that the Noctura mask will become an additional tool in treating diabetic retinopathy.”

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, which occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells at the back of the eye.

If it is not treated, it can cause blindness.

Diabetes is also the second most common underlying condition among Covid-19 patients who have died, of which 35 percent had the illness.

A spokesperson said that during the coronavirus pandemic the mask can help diabetic patients, who find it difficult to attend retinopathy screening and eye clinic appointments.

Government advice is that patients with high risk conditions should not go to hospital, which means that patients with diabetes receiving hospital treatment for diabetic eye disease are at risk.

It is likely that diabetic patients who cannot attend surgeries and hospitals for medical treatment – as many clinic appointments are being cancelled – are further risking their eyesight.

Read the article in The Northern Echo here