AIREDALE NHS Foundation Trust has become the first hospital in Yorkshire and one of the first trusts in the country using the latest pioneering technology for people having cataract surgery.

The opening of Airedale Hospital’s new £100,000 ‘SurgiCube’ operation unit means people can now have microsurgeries, such as cataract operations, safely and more quickly, in the Steeton hospital’s Dales suite.

The trust currently performs around 1,000 cataract surgeries every year - the procedure only takes around 30 to 45 minutes with a local anaesthetic and patients are able to go home the same day.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye develops cloudy patches; as people get older the lenses start to become frosted and vision becomes limited. They commonly affect adults as a result of ageing. Cataracts usually get slowly worse over time so surgery to replace the cloudy lens is the only way to improve the eyesight.

The trust says the Surgicube creates a clean operating room by using a mobile surgical hood, providing an ‘ultra-clean airflow directly around the operating table’ and ‘significantly’ reducing the risk of infection for the patient.

It means the team will be able to carry out more operations. And, patients will not have to prepare for surgery in the old way; they do not need to ‘dress for surgery’, they can sit down on the treatment chair themselves, and surgery is completed more quickly, creating a more relaxing experience, says the trust.

Mr Paul Brogden, consultant ophthalmologist and specialist in cataract surgery said:“Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures done by the NHS and because of our older population, a higher number of people will be at risk of eye problems in the future, which means an even greater need for our service.

“We need to continue providing a walk in, walk out service and the state of the art Surgicube allows us to continue offering this service. We are proud to be one of the first hospital trusts to use it. “

The trust says other surgical procedures, such as minor hand and foot surgery, will also take place in the Surgicube, so freeing up the main theatre operating rooms.

David Crampsey, the trust’s medical director said:“This is a fantastic state of the art piece of equipment for Airedale and we are very pleased to be able to offer this new facility to our patients. We are one of the first trusts in the UK to have this. It is part of our ambition to be at the forefront of NHS care; developing, innovating and transforming the services we provide to our community – and equipping our clinical teams with cutting edge technology.”