Manchester

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital celebrates 200 years

Early eye operations were performed with no anaesthetic Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption Early eye operations were performed with no anaesthetic

With no anaesthetic and rudimentary instruments, thousands of patients were treated from as early as 1814 in what is now known as the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

The Mancunian institution is celebrating 200 years of treatment and research which has taken it from the most basic of conditions to a centre of scientific innovation.

Founder William James Wilson, from Leeds, set up in the spare rooms of a house "near the top of King Street", rented for £25 per year.

Formally inaugurated as the Manchester Institution for Curing Diseases of the Eye, Wilson was the only surgeon for the first few months.

But as demand quickly grew he expanded his team, servicing patients without fees and relying on donations and subscriptions.

Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption The hospital relied on donations to help treat the poor
Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption The hospital operated from St John Street from 1865 to 1885
Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption The hospital was based on Oxford Road from 1885

The patient experience during the Victorian period was a far cry from today.

In 1838, patients had to queue in the rain in the back yard of number 3 South Parade, although funds were finally found to erect a shed.

From here the hospital moved to St John Street and in 1865 Queen Victoria gave approval for it to become the Royal Eye Hospital.

As the hospital grew it then moved to the grade II listed building on Oxford Road, which opened in 1885.

In this era treatments included leeching, and records list ailments with unfamiliar names such as eversion, strumulous inflammation and lippitudo, as well as "wounds of the eyeball".

Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption Equipment has moved on since this picture was taken in a triage room in the hospital
Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption An operating theatre in the hospital as it looks today

The hospital helped out in both World Wars.

It came under strain during World War One, losing staff to war service and losing 50 beds to the care of the wounded.

Records show that during this period staff still managed to treat 39,000 outpatients and over 2,000 inpatients in 1917.

The hospital was bombed on 23 December 1940, killing two staff members and causing substantial damage.

But today it is one of the largest teaching eye hospitals in Europe and one of only two dedicated eye hospitals in the country.

Run by the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust it treats over 250,000 patients a year.

Following a £500m redevelopment, the Queen opened the new site on Oxford Road in 2012.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen visited Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour
Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as it looks today

The hospital opened its doors to the public to celebrate its bicentenary, giving behind-the-scenes tours of the operating theatres and showcasing its equipment.

Manchester-based artist Lucy Burscough also exhibited her paintings at the open day as part of the Manchester Science Festival.

Nicholas Jones, a consultant ophthalmologist who has worked at the hospital for over 30 years, has also written a history of the hospital to celebrate the bicentenary.

Image copyright Nick Jones, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
Image caption Nicholas Jones, consultant ophthalmologist at the hospital

Mr Jones said: "MREH is having a great birthday, and we're delighted to see so many people coming in to join in the fun.

"We are showing cutting edge technology and the high standards of care that we can now offer 200 years after the hospital was created."

Over the years

21 October 1814: William James Wilson, from Leeds, sets up the Manchester Eye Institution, now known as Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

23 December 1940: The hospital is bombed, killing two staff members and causing substantial damage to the Nelson Street building.

23 March 2012: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh officially open the new Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.

20 November 2013: Manchester Eye Bank reaches 20,000 eye donors, equating to almost 40,000 corneas processed and stored in the bank.

21 October 2014: Manchester Royal Eye Hospital celebrates it bicentenary.

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