Hospital’s pioneering eyesight treatment to feature on BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor
11 February 2017
BBC health show Trust Me, I’m a Doctor is to feature the pioneering work of Southend Hospital’s rheumatology department as it leads the way in the treatment and education of a little-known condition that can cause sudden and irreversible sight loss.
Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a condition in which medium and
large arteries, usually in the head and neck, become inflamed. It's
sometimes called temporal arteritis because the arteries around the
temples are usually affected.
Symptoms of GCA include:
- aching and soreness in and around the temples
- jaw muscle pain while eating
- vision loss
- polymyalgia ,an aching and stiffness in both shoulders and
- accompanied by weight loss, night sweats, anemia,
Spearheading the rheumatology department's work with GCA is
Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta. He has developed a fast-track pathway
which ensures rapid specialist review and treatment of patients
with suspected GCA.
Professor Dasgupta was quick to point out how critical swift
treatment is: "We now realise that if we are to avoid irreversible
sight loss, as a result of GCA, it needs to be treated with as much
urgency as the warning signs of stroke or heart attack."
Another major aspect of Professor Dasgupta's work is education
and awarenes and he wants to ensure early recognition of GCA
becomes enshrined in GP training and education.
Professor Dasgupta added: "It's like the 'Act FAST' stroke
campaign which raises public and professional awareness of early
stroke prevention. The stroke pathway uses the slogan 'Time is
Brain' but we are using the slogan 'Time is Sight'. If you can get
people on to treatment quickly, you can prevent sight loss."
One such patient who was fortunate to be diagnosed early and
successfully treated, was Roger Keay, 77, from Thorpe Bay, who also
features in the BBC episode.
Roger said: "I asked Professor Dasgupta if I will go blind
eventually because of GCA and he said '100% guaranteed that we have
stopped the problem'. I've lost some field of vision but it's not a
problem, I still drive, play golf, ride my bike. I'm still doing
everything I used to. If it wasn't for this treatment I would now
Episode 3 ofTrust Me I'm A Doctor,featuring Southend
Hospital, airs on BBC2 at 8pm on Wednesday 15