Welsh Government urged to fund sight saving operations

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Angela Burns has called on the Welsh Government’s Health Minister to fund sight saving Corneal Cross-Linking operations on the NHS following a case raised by local teenager Ryan Morgan.

Ryan, 19 from Pembrokeshire suffers from the rare eye disease Keratoconus which affects the shape of the cornea, leading to blindness. There is a procedure available knowing as Cross-Linking which can treat the ailment and halt the onset of sight loss, however this procedure is not available on the NHS in Wales.

Ryan, who first noticed a change in his vision two years ago, was forced to find £2000 to undergo an operation on one eye through a private health company using the Princess of Wales NHS Hospital in Bridgend.

Angela challenged the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, on the floor of the Senedd during Health Questions on Wednesday to take a fresh look at the situation. 

Mr Gething referred to the need to prioritise treatments, but did agree to discuss the individual case further with Angela.

Commenting following the exchange Angela said

“It is shocking that in Wales in the 21st Century a relatively simple and inexpensive treatment such as Corneal Cross-Linking which can save a person’s eye sight is not available on the NHS.

“It is a shoddy state of affairs that a young man, just entering the working world, has to seek financial support from his employer to fund an operation that could shape his future and stop him from going blind.

“Sight loss can lead to isolation, loneliness and depression and the cost to the State of supporting someone with no vision will greatly outweigh the cost of this operation.

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue and I look forward to progressing this issue further so Ryan and people in a similar position do not need to seek private financing to pay for something that the NHS should be offering.

Ryan added “I am grateful to Angela for raising my case with the Minister and am hopeful that changes can be made to ensure other patients suffering from Keratoconus do not have to face the struggle that I have done to receive the sight saving treatment that they so desperately need.”

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Picture: Ryan Morgan and Angela Burns AM in the Senedd.