North East MedTech company PolyPhotonix, based in Sedgefield in County Durham, has had its “innovative” diabetes sleep mask adopted in the NHS for the first time.
The “pioneering” treatment to prevent blindness in people suffering from diabetic retinopathy has been adopted by Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust. Shown to improve patients’ visual acuity, the mask could potentially save the health service millions of pounds a year.
Backed by the RENDER Study, the sleep mask has demonstrated improvement and stabilisation of diabetic eye disease in 96 per cent of patients. It is an early stage non-invasive alternative to current, later-stage invasive treatments such as eye injections for patients with the condition; which is a “leading cause of blindness in Europe”.
Based on research undertaken by Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust, improving patient outcomes with an earlier stage intervention could save the NHS £3,000 per patient. It is believed that the sleep mask could deliver cost savings estimated in excess of £180m per year if adopted across the NHS.
Moreover, it could ease pressure on NHS services by reducing hospital clinic appointments and the use of eye injection treatments at a later stage. Diabetes is a “major health crisis” facing the UK and costs the NHS around £10bn a year, most of which goes in treating complications, including eyesight damage.
The current NHS pathway involves monitoring patients with early signs of diabetic retinopathy until their eyes deteriorate and they qualify for treatment intervention. However, the Noctura 400 sleep mask uses intervention at an early stage to prevent future problems before they start.
The sleep mask treatment can be worn during normal hours of sleep and can prevent the need for “expensive and time intensive” injections directly into the eyeball, which can be “stressful and unpleasant” for patients, and comes with a risk of side effects.