Westwood Ophthalmology is the UK’s only optometrist based in Birmingham.
It offers a range of eye care and eye rehabilitation services including laser eye surgery, eye exams, ophthalmic surgery and laser eye treatments.
It’s also a member of the Association of Optometrists of Great Britain, and its staff have worked in a range, from hospitals to university teaching hospitals.
We spoke to the head of Westwood, Dr David Smith, to find out why the practice needs to diversify.
What’s the role of lasers in your practice?
David Smith: Laser eye doctors can use lasers to look at the eye and help patients to understand their condition.
They also use lasers in treating certain conditions such as macular degeneration, retinal detachment and cataracts.
This allows them to treat conditions that are normally difficult or impossible to treat using conventional means.
What is the most common form of laser eye treatment?
David: We treat the most commonly diagnosed conditions by using a laser to focus on the eye.
We also use a combination of laser and surgical laser eye procedures to treat certain conditions that require surgical intervention such as cataract removal.
What are the risks associated with laser eye therapy?
David says laser eye doctors are very safe.
They have the highest standard of patient care.
What types of laser treatments are available in the UK?
David tells us about some of the more common types of lasers.
A laser eye surgeon can use laser treatment to focus the eye on a specific area of the eye using a device called a laser diode.
This laser beam is directed towards a target object such as a lens.
This may be a small mirror or an eye patch.
A patient can be treated by applying a small amount of the laser to their eye or using a surgical procedure to remove the lens.
There are also some lasers that can be used to focus light onto the eye itself such as fluorescein.
Other types of light can be directed towards the eye, such as visible light, which can be applied to the retina.
What happens when you have a laser procedure?
David explains that there are two stages to the laser eye procedure.
The first is a laser light beam is aimed at the retina and the second is a small laser beam to the eye to correct the problem.
What type of laser do you use?
David describes the lasers he uses as ‘surgical lasers’.
They use the laser light to target the eye directly, but the laser is not directed at the skin.
It is directed at a small target called the photoreceptor, which is located on the back of the retina, in the area that responds to light.
This photoreceptor is stimulated to fire and is responsible for turning the pupil in the correct direction.
How long does it take for the laser treatment process to take place?
David and his team will perform laser eye surgeries at least three times a week.
If they are able to use the lasers more often, the surgery can be more effective.
What does it cost?
David told us that the average laser treatment costs £500-600.
However, this can vary depending on the type of procedure.
For example, if they have an eye surgery where a lens is removed, it could be more expensive, as there will be additional equipment and labour involved.
David says that laser eye specialists can often get an initial consultation before beginning laser eye training.
What about the laser procedure itself?
David suggests that it’s best to start by using an eye mask and some glasses to reduce the risk of getting a laser in your eyes.
What do you do when you can’t find an optometrists in your area?
David has a number of contacts that are willing to give you a referral if you need to be treated.
If you need more information about lasers, or have any other questions about the practice, contact the optometries team on 0845 878 002.