Before 1982, a part-time outpatient ophthalmic service was provided by visiting consultants from Exeter and an in-house orthoptic service had also been established.
Increasing pressures on the service and a desire to provide in-patient surgery in North Devon lead to the appointment of 2 consultants based in North Devon so that, by the end of 1983 most ophthalmic conditions could be treated in Barnstaple. The out-patient facilities expanded to include laser machines, an ophthalmic operating theatre was developed and an optometric department was established to provide refractive, low vision and contact lens services.
Since then, the ophthalmology department has continued to flourish, with a huge expansion in patient numbers. In 2003 a third consultant, specialising in glaucoma and eye plastic surgery was appointed, followed by additional consultants specialising in the treatment of retinal and inflammatory diseases.
The South Molton Community Hospital, funded through its League of Friends, set up an eye clinic in 2003. Since then, there have been developments at the Bideford Community Hospital site and a large footprint increase in the department at NDDH. There have seen significant expansions in the nursing, optometric and orthoptic departments and a constant investment in the latest diagnostic, laser and surgical equipment. Such investment has only been possible through generous charitable donations for which we are enormously grateful.