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Professor Sunil Shah, a world-renowned Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon who practices at Midland Eye Clinic, has won a prestigious international award for his work on developing a device that could help treat debilitating corneal infections.
Prof Shah beat two other finalists in the ‘Winning Pitch Challenge’ on Saturday 18 July. The competition seeks to reward innovative ophthalmic solutions and connect innovators with investors to accelerate prototype development and improve patient care.
Professor Shah’s pioneering Photon UVC Device kills all known germs and microorganisms, and could help hundreds of thousands of people worldwide avoid blindness from corneal infections and improve their health outcomes.
More than 60,000 people suffer with a corneal infection each year in the UK. The figure is much higher in the developing world, with around two million people suffering with from infections in areas such as Africa and Asia.
Corneal infections can lead to blindness, with loss of sight from the infection much more common in the developing world.
The infection is so widespread and devastating in some areas that the World Health Organisation has dubbed it a ‘silent epidemic’.
Corneal infections are commonly treated in the West with transplants – but severe infections can still lead to loss of the eye. In developing countries where there are fewer eye doctors and treatment is harder to access, corneal infections often result in more severe problems including corneal thinning, corneal perforation and corneal scarring – all leading to debilitating vision problems which can ultimately lead to blindness.
Corneal infections are also a common problem for household pets with millions of dogs and cats in the US suffering with the infection. The Photon UVC Device developed by Professor Shah and the team at Photon Therapeutics Ltd can also treat animals however, and could revolutionise veterinary care in the years to come.
The Device works by applying 15 seconds of UVC, a well-known sterilisation technique, to the infected area, and the process can be repeated as required. Helpfully, the Device can be used in addition to conventional treatments such as antibiotics, and all trials and studies to date have shown it to be safe, effective and simple to use.
Professor Shah, who is also a pioneer of the LASEK laser eye surgery, won the prestigious award after a short presentation and a gruelling Q&A from leading experts in the field of ophthalmology. Amid stiff competition, the judges announced Professor Shah as the winner and awarded the $25,000 prize as well as guidance from experts to help operationalise the Photon UVC Device.
Speaking after the award win, Professor Shah said:
“It was a huge honour to be shortlisted for this award and to come out on top is a fantastic feeling.
We’ve made huge progress with this Device with 10 years of research – our trials show that it’s safe, effective and quick and easy to use. With the huge numbers of people affected by corneal infections each year, our hope is that this Device that can reduce avoidable blindness will improve health outcomes for people across the world.
It’s been a real team effort by everyone at Photon Therapeutics to get us this far, and we have huge hopes for the future.”
David Henderson, Clinic Director at Midland Eye, said:
“On behalf of the team at Midland Eye I’d like to congratulate Professor Shah for this incredible award win. The consultants at Midland Eye are without a doubt leaders in ophthalmology, and this fantastic achievement by Professor Shah underlines his commitment to patient safety and desire to innovate and improve patient care.”
Earlier this year Professor Shah performed vital eye surgery on Coventry City FC Vice President John Sillett, in an intervention that the football legend described as ‘transformational’.
6 August 2020