We have purchased new electrophysiology testing equipment.

Bristol Eye Hospital has carried out electrophysiology testing since 2004 when the department was set up by Consultant Optometrist Dr Paul Spry who tragically died in 2021.

The testing procedure is similar to that used to measure brainwaves and involves small electrodes being attached to the skin at the side of the eyes, forehead, and at the back of the head.  The patient then looks at a TV screen and the electrodes pick up the activity from the light sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye, cells in the optic nerve and then the visual areas of the brain.

There are many clinical conditions for which electrodiagnosis is crucial in establishing the diagnosis and monitoring treatment.  Overall, electrophysiology is particularly useful in patients who attend paediatrics, medical retina and uveitis clinics.

Remarkably the equipment bought when Dr Spry set up the department 19 years ago is still being used.  However, it is becoming obsolete as replacement parts are no longer available.

The new equipment provided by the Friends will “future proof” the electrophysiology service for the 1 million patients that BEH cares for in and around Bristol.

BEH have installed the new equipment in a specially designed electrically insulated room.  The old equipment will also continue to be used until it stops working which doubles the capacity for electrophysiology tests (until the old equipment finally fails) and allows some catching up on the huge backlog of patients waiting for electrodiagnostic testing that built up during the Covid pandemic.  In addition, having the new equipment already installed will ensure that testing will not stop when the old equipment fails.

The new equipment is more child-friendly, more efficient and supports more recent developments in testing.  It will allow alignment of BEH’s testing methods with those used by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and facilitate further development of services, potential for research projects with other centres and provision of the required quality of care within the South West.

On behalf of the Visual Electrophysiology Department, Maddy Perry wrote:

I can’t tell you how delighted we are now that it is installed and getting to grips with the new functionalities that it has.  It’s all very exciting!

Having this new equipment will allow us to make a very positive impact for the future.  In particular, our existing equipment is not very child friendly and we are so pleased and relieved that we will now be able to make the testing more engaging and less intimidating for this age group.”

The Friends are very proud to support this purchase to improve the service for patients and to guarantee the sustainability of this service in future.  It is a fitting and lasting tribute in memory of Paul Spry and all he did for the Bristol Eye Hospital.

This grant cost £83,750, including a five years’ maintenance programme.

The link below contains an article acknowledging Dr Paul Spry’s dedicated service to Bristol Eye Hospital.

1 December 2023
Link to recent grants including a brief tribute to Paul Spry