The team at Eden Eyecare in Penrith offers a full range of services to its customers, from excellence in optometry thanks to cutting-edge technology to advice on fashion-forward eyewear.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul.

As far as the team at Eden Eyecare is concerned, they also provide invaluable clues to the health and wellbeing of their patients. Resident optometrist Iain Macnish is not only able to identify latent conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration, he can also spot tell-tale changes in the optic nerve that can indicate everything from brain tumours to early onset multiple sclerosis.

To help him is the latest in ocular technology – a piece of equipment known as an Optical Coherence Tomographer [OCT]. Costing £45,000, the device uses laser beams to scan the eye and produce a detailed 3-D map of the retina.

“Most opticians now have equipment that can take a photograph of the retina, but while this is helpful you can’t see everything that’s going on,” Iain says. “The OCT is a revolution in ocular medicine. It allows us to image tissue at much higher resolution than other imaging devices such as MRI and ultrasound enabling the practitioner to pick up signs of glaucoma up to five years earlier than photographs.

“We can also detect early swelling, bleeding in the eye, floaters that can be associated with retinal detachment, and both types of macular degeneration.

“And because the lasers scan all the way through the eye to the optic nerve other conditions can be detected such as optic neuritis associated with MS. The difficulty with this equipment is that currently a typical waiting time in Cumbria for a routine referral to an ophthalmologist is four to six months, which can be extremely stressful for patients.

“With the OCT essentially what you get here is cutting-edge hospital technology in a clinic environment,” says Iain, who trained at both the Moorfield Eye Hospital in London and Liverpool’s St Paul’s Eye Unit.

“It allows me to immediately identify if anything is wrong with the help of a Consultant Ophthalmologist who attends the practice approximately every four weeks to look over the case notes.

“This enables me to provide the patients with a diagnosis and management plan within weeks ensuring that only patients who need treatment have to attend a hospital appointment.

“Effectively we are triaging patients much more accurately than in a traditional optical practice, still using the established NHS referral channels when required but providing the patient with private medical ocular service for no charge.

“This gives any patient who attends the practice a greater understanding of their ocular condition and reducing the pressure on the NHS.”

Launched last year by Iain and his business partner Zoe Anderton, a qualified dispensing optician with 15 years’ experience, Eden Eyecare is one of very few high street optical practices to have an the OCT, and the only practice in Cumbria currently offering an OCT with ophthalmology review when required for free – with the benefit of being a referral practice to Lakeland Vision if they wish to have any private procedures undertaken.

“We always had a very clear idea of what we wanted to achieve, which was an optical practice providing services from dispensing optician and an optometrist to an ophthalmologist,” Zoe says. The rapid growth of the business is evidence of how Eden Eyecare’s unique service, allied with personal service provided by Iain, Zoe, and optical dispenser Rachel Skingley.

“The dispensing aspect of the business pays attention to providing expertise in the knowledge and measurements of ensuring a great pair of spectacles,” Zoe says. “We also offer a dispensing and frame consultation, discussing patient requirements, face and frame shapes and also dimensions. We offer a wide selection of frames. We really do have a unique USP, and we have many five-star reviews from previous patients on our Facebook page.”

As far as Iain is concerned, he is now doing the job he always dreamed of.


This article appeared in the November 2016 edition of Cumbria Life. You can download a PDF version of the actual article: Download PDF Article

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