A team of doctors at Whipps Cross Hospital are the first in the NHS to perform a pioneering procedure for the visually impaired. 

Corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) was performed on six patients with Keratoconus on July 30.  

Keratoconus is a degenerative eye disorder that begins in teenage years and develops in later life so that by the age of 30, the only option for sufferers is to undergo a corneal transplant. 

The CXL procedure uses UV light with vitamin B2 eye drops to strengthen the fibres in the cornea and halting the degeneration, meaning a transplant later in life is avoided. 

The Leytonstone hospital is the first NHS hospital to offer the operation, lasting only 60 minutes.

Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr Dipak Parmar carried out the treatment.

He said: "Keratoconus can have a severe effect on quality of life and is especially damaging as it hits people in their late teens, worsening into their mid-thirties, impacting on their work and relationships.

"Some people are fortunate. Glasses or contact lenses will improve their vision, and by their mid-thirties, the condition naturally halts and they will not experience any further vision loss.

"However, until now, those with more serious loss of vision have been forced to wait and see how the condition deteriorates, with cornea transplantation as their only option. 

"I am delighted that this new treatment will improve the lives of our patients by stopping Keratoconus from progressing further and preventing visual loss."

The patient is awake throughout the proceedure and can return home after a couple of hours.

Keratoconus affects one in every 2,000 people and CXL is the only treatment that stops its progression.  

It has a 100 per cent success rate for up to five years after the treatment.

In half of all cases, CXL has actually improved patients vision.  

Service manager for ophthalmology, Alishan Kasmani, added "CXL is the closest tool to curing Keratoconus".

Adrian Dziemidok, 29, of Basildon, had CXL in his right eye as a private patient two years ago and was one of six to have it performed at Whipps in July.  

He said: "After the first procedure, I noticed a change in my vision very quickly. It was a slight improvement, but I was more relieved to know that my sight wouldn’t get any worse.

"It’s great to be able to have my other eye done. I thought I would need to have a corneal transplant, which I didn’t like the idea of. It’s a big procedure and frightening."