HUNDREDS of patients with eye problems are set to benefit from a new £150,000 state-of-the-art scanner unveiled at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

The Heidelberg retinal scanner, which is at the cutting edge of new technology, will lead to faster diagnosis and more precise treatment for conditions, including those linked to diabetes that can cause blindness.

Consultant eye surgeon Faruque Ghanchi said the machine marked an exciting new development for Bradford for both its clinical and research work pushing Bradford even more to the fore of eye research internationally and also enhancing patient care.

He said releasing the funds to buy the new scanner was forward thinking by Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust.

The scanner gives a detailed and wider image of the patient's retina and means patients will no longer have to have injections of dye to show up how the blood vessels are working in the eye.

Mr Ghanchi, who is the National Institute for Health Research's lead opthalmic expert for industry studies, is now also on a mission to attract more research opportunities from abroad to use the scanner which brings sponsorship with it.

He said: "It will help us understand more about eye diseases and find more solutions.

"We are particularly fortunate in Bradford to have patients willing to help us with our research.

"We have been building up our research portfolio for the past ten years and this will put us even more at the forefront of eye research internationally which means we can bring our patients the latest and most advanced assessments and treatments."

Thousands of patients attend the eye clinic every year at BRI including referrals from across Yorkshire because of its top equipment and services.

The clinic sees about 300 new patients a year with AMD, age-related macular degeneration which is painless eye condition that leads to the gradual loss of central vision but can sometimes cause a rapid reduction in vision causing difficulty in reading because text becomes blurry, colours can appear less vibrant and people's faces hazy.

It also sees about ten per cent of the city's 35,000 diabetics with diabetic retinopathy – a condition which when advanced can potentially cause blindness.

Mr Ghanchi said: "The scanner will help us refine treatments and because of that reduce the treatments needed for our patients because we will have so much more detailed information available to us.

"It's a good foundation for us to work on and it shows how progressive the Trust is in its collaboration between research and clinical services."