AWARD judges were so impressed with the outstanding research work of a Bradford hospital team that they created a special honour just for them.

The Judges’ Award accolade came from the Bayer Awards Programme at its 2016 Ophthalmology Honours in a ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, celebrating the work of Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Ophthalmology Research Network for its work in enhancing patient care through research.

The awards are supported by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Visionary, a membership organisation for local sight loss charities, recognising the work being carried out by ophthalmology teams throughout the UK.

The Bradford research team includes two research nurses, one research associate, two research optometrists and four ophthalmic photographers and all the medical retina consultants are involved in research.

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals team has a growing portfolio of studies offering all patients an opportunity to participate in one clinical trial. In the last six years, there have been 20 studies including on macular degeneration, a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision. Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Helen Devonport said: “Macular disorders are the leading cause of blindness, and a decade ago treatment options were limited. There continues to be a growing need for research to find better treatment options.”

Lead for Research in Ophthalmology, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon Prof Faruque Ghanchi added: “The aim of this research network was to develop a centre of excellence for macular diseases by encouraging a culture of research and evidence-based practice. The ophthalmology research team has evolved from one consultant and one nurse to a collaborative ophthalmology research network working with researchers in clinics, as well as universities.”

The judges said: “This entry didn’t quite fit any of the award categories but we wanted to recognise this fantastic initiative as it was close to many of our hearts. Bradford is a first-class macular research centre and the team’s efforts are excellent.”

Bradford Teaching Hospital’s Macular Service co-ordinator Cara Mitchell was also presented with an Ophthalmology Unsung Hero award for her patient-centred approach and ability to motivate others.