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Regular eye tests are vital in order to identify a range of conditions that can be more successfully treated with early diagnosis advises Mr Ankur Barua, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Midland Eye.
Mr Barua, who completed an advanced fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery, carries out complex anterior segment surgery including corneal grafting, keratoconus treatment and high-risk cataract surgery.
He is one of the UK’s foremost specialists in corneal cross-linking (CXL) treatment for the lesser known condition called keratoconus, a degenerative disorder of the eye in which the cornea becomes thinner, irregular and distorted.
Affecting around one in 500 (varying by ethnicity), sufferers may only notice minor symptoms in its early stages, but over time may it may lead to significant and sometimes rapid reduction in vision.
“Keratoconus can be progressive and even affect people in their early teens,” he says. “Symptoms can include glare, distortions in vision and a more frequent change in a person’s eye prescription than would normally be expected. It can be genetic and is more prevalent in second generation Asians, but can affect all ethnic groups.
“Other high-risk groups include those that have a family history, rub their eyes frequently or have a general health condition which may be linked to keratoconus. It is not uncommon for it be diagnosed when a patient opts for laser eye surgery.
“There are different methods available to carry out corneal cross linking which are used to strengthen a cornea suffering from progressive keratoconus and both Mr Barua and colleague Professor Sunil Shah have extensive experience of this procedure and prefer the technique in which the epithelium is taken off thereby providing excellent results.”
Mr Barua, who joined Midland Eye in April last year, is also an undergraduate tutor at Warwick Medical School and honorary consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He has led the development and introduction of the keratoconus pathway and lubricant protocol into Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust where he was the corneal lead consultant. Since then he has moved to Birmingham Midland Eye Centre joining the regional corneal team there.