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Date: 18 September 2021

Time: 09:01

Photo: Kieran Bayliss and Marie Tsaloumas

New laser helps save mans sight

Story posted/last updated: 03 November 2014

Eye specialists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) have helped to save a Redditch man’s eyesight with a new £79,000 laser.

At the age of 6, Kieran Bayliss was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after a bout of chicken pox triggered a rare genetic response that led to his pancreas shutting down.

This led to Kieran being told at the age of seven that he would likely become blind before he turns 60.

Diabetic eye disease or diabetic retinopathy can cause the blood vessels in the retina (the photographic film of the eye) to either become blocked, leak or bleed, depriving those affected of their vision.

Approximately 40 per cent of type one diabetes sufferers and up to 20 per cent of type 2 diabetes sufferers will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy that could potentially, if left untreated lead to blindness.

Now 31, with clear vision - Kieran is enjoying the relief that he may now never lose his sight thanks to advances in treatments.

The father of three was undergoing the standard retinal laser treatment at the Diabetic Eye Clinic at QEHB but found it painful and time consuming – taking up to an hour  for one session.

Kieran said: “The first laser treatments I had were uncomfortable and sometimes very painful; it wasn’t something I looked forward to - even though I knew it would help save my sight.

“As a diabetic, it was explained to me when I was young that I could go blind one day – that would cost me everything so I was willing to endure the pain.

“I didn’t want to be in the position where I wouldn’t be able to see my three boys, or my wife – how would I support them?

“As a carpenter and a shop fitter, my family rely on me – losing my sight is as bad as I could imagine.

“When the hospital’s charity funded this new laser I can’t even begin to say how relieved I felt and how much better my procedures with the new retinal laser have been, he added.

Kieran’s ophthalmic consultant, Marie Tsaloumas said: “Diabetes and its ocular complications is a condition that can continue to progress if untreated, but Kieran is a good hard working man and needs his sight.

“The damaged blood vessels in Kieran’s eyes started to bleed around 5 years ago, but I’ve been seeing Kieran since he was 18.

“When I first started laser treatment on Kieran, it could take over an hour for each session, with frequent pauses so that the treatment could be tolerated. With the Pascal Laser, treatment  takes 10 to 20 minutes to perform without having to stop due to pain or discomfort.

“The old laser would only fire a single beam to one area at a time; the Pascal offers up to 25 simultaneous shots that are fully adjustable to pre-determined patterns and intensity. This massively reduces the amount of time a patient needs for one treatment session ” She added.

The Pascal Laser is not usually funded for hospitals on the NHS and was paid for with funds raised by the hospital charity’s Eye Appeal.

It has enabled the Diabetic Eye Clinic to double the number of patients having retinal laser treatment each session, due to its increased speed and improved patient comfort – the number of patients not attending their appointments also reducing as a result.

“Some patients have been reluctant to proceed with the retinal laser treatment in the past. With the Pascal, most of those fears can be put aside, it is more patient friendly, and it is comparatively quicker, and definitely more comfortable.” Ms Tsaloumas adds.

She continued: “Previously, patients who could not tolerate laser treatment sometimes needed to undergo a general anaesthetic for the procedure, which has its own inherent risks associated with it. Patients prefer the Pascal laser because they now experience only a minimal amount of discomfort over a much shorter period of time.

Kieran, whose wife Michelle has now had their fourth child, will still have to attend the clinic regularly to have his eyes monitored every 3-6 months. However he no longer worries about his clinic visits.

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