Oncologists assessing the health of patients undergoing trials of cancer drugs at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary have been supported by ophthalmologists using Heidelberg’s Spectralis OCT.

The machine, which generates high-resolution images of the inside of the eye using coloured lasers, was funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and has allowed consultant medical ophthalmologists like Dr Will Innes to assess the eye health of cancer patients taking part in the clinical trials.

‘With these drugs, the eye is ‘an organ at risk’ because some of the proteins and receptors that are targeted in cancer cells are also present in the eye. It is essential that we closely monitor eye health during treatment and, with this equipment, we can do that,' said Dr Innes.

Using ‘exquisitely detailed’ pictures produced by the technology, the team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary can detect changes in the structure and function of the eye, allowing patients to continue with therapy, without further monitoring.

“Before we had this dedicated evaluation suite, patients had to visit separate areas of the hospital to have their eyes assessed, in some cases, on a weekly basis. It was very difficult to complete the eye checks necessary,’ said Dr Innes.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched in 2008 and has raised over £11 million to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.