EYE patients in Whitby will now be treated closer to home following the introduction of a mobile clinic.
The eye care centre, which is a first for North Yorkshire, will be launched at Bridlington Hospital on 11 March.
It will be used all over the East Coast and will make regular visits to Scarborough Hospital.
The unit is designed to provide dedicated assessment and treatment for patients with wet Agerelated Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Previously patients from Whitby would have to travel to York once a month for an injection of the sight-saving drug lucentis.
Viv Wright from Whitby who is chairman of Scarborough Blind and Partially Sighted Society, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news - we’re delighted. “To hear that a new service like this is coming to Scarborough is almost unbelievable at a time when many things seem to be going backwards.”
Mrs Wright added that many sight-impaired patients find it difficult or impossible to use public transport and were having to face the cost of taxis.
She said: “We’re delighted as are our clients. It’s excellent that people have been forward-thinking enough to do this.
“A lot of people tend to retire to this area, so there will be more and more people needing to use a facility like this.” Mrs Wright added that treatment with lucentis can stop people’s eyesight getting any worse and many of the society’s members have benefited from this over the years. Leo McGrory, chairman of the Scarborough and District Local Involvement Network, was also pleased to hear the news.
He said: “It’s great for patients. I think there should be more of this kind of thing happening.
“The mobile MRI scanner that went round was very successful and I believe a mobile eye clinic will also be well used.”
The official opening event will be attended by Whitby’s MP Robert Goodwill, York-based consultant ophthalmologist Richard Gale, Mike Proctor, York trust’s deputy chief executive and soon to be acting chief executive at Scarborough and other invited guests.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the UK and predominantly affects those aged 55 years old or over.
AMD currently affects an estimated 500,000 people in the UK and approximately 26,000 new cases of the more severe form, wet AMD, are reported each year.
This includes over 10,000 people across the North and East of Yorkshire.
More than 140 patients from the Whitby, Scarborough and Bridlington areas have had to make a round trip of 80 miles or more to York once a month to receive treatment for their condition.