Revolutionary new trifocal lens ends need for glasses after cataract surgery
21:52 GMT, 29 September 2012
A new trifocal lens implant that offers near, intermediate and distance vision, is revolutionising the treatment of cataracts.
Until now, many patients who had artificial lenses inserted into their eyes found they had good near vision and could see far away, but their middle-distance vision, for instance when they looked at a computer screen, was blurry. Many still had to use glasses and contact lenses to fill this gap.
Lens implants are most commonly a treatment for cataracts, an age-related condition that results in clouding of the eye’s natural lens.
Lens implants are most commonly a treatment for cataracts, an age-related condition that results in clouding of the eye's natural lens (file picture)
Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Bobby Qureshi, who uses the new trifocal implant at the London Eye Hospital, says the results are almost instantaneous.
‘Traditional multifocal lenses have been around for more than a decade but they developed a bad reputation because, while they offer patients good near and far vision, they don’t provide enough intermediate vision for computer use, for example.
‘They also cause too much glare for many people.
‘This trifocal lens overcomes these two main drawbacks, providing good all-round vision, with hardly any glare.’
The lens has three different focal parts: for near, far and intermediate vision.
‘Imagine a dartboard, with circles coming out from the bullseye in the centre,’ Mr Qureshi says.
‘With this trifocal lens, the centre circle is for focusing far away, the next is for close-up vision and the next is for everything in between.
‘The brain instinctively chooses which part to concentrate on and which to ignore. The patient can see near and far and everywhere around them, unlike with a pair of varifocal or bifocal glasses.
‘It is also an excellent option for active, short-sighted people who find glasses would get in the way.’
Game on: Tennis coach Martin Ashenden no longer has to wear glasses on court
Larry Benjamin, consultant ophthalmologist at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and a spokesman for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, says: ‘With multifocals, patients may still have problems with their intermediate vision and this lens is supposed to address that problem.
‘The theory behind the lens is quite sound and, assuming it is positioned and fitted correctly, it should give patients an advantage for middle vision.
‘Not all patients “miss” their middle vision with other lens implants but some do, so it’s good to have a solution.’
The operation Mr Qureshi performs to insert the implant is bladeless. It is carried out under local anaesthetic using a state-of-the-art computer-guided laser and takes just a few minutes.
The laser fragments the eye’s natural lens, while simultaneously making an incision the size of a full stop into the eye.
Through this incision, the tiny pieces of the natural lens are then removed through a fine tube, before the trifocal lens is inserted through the same incision.
Mr Qureshi says: ‘Patients can return to work the day after surgery and they should notice an improvement in their vision the next day, if not sooner.
‘And as the brain gradually adjusts over a couple of weeks, things will get even better. The results will then last a lifetime.’
In April this year, tennis coach Martin Ashenden, 75, from London, had the trifocal lens fitted after being diagnosed with cataracts.
Martin saw Mr Qureshi after reading a newspaper article about another type of eye lens.
He underwent the procedure in his left eye on April 24, and in his right eye two weeks later.
‘I didn’t feel anything during the procedure,’ says Martin. ‘And within a few minutes it was over.’
Martin wore a protective eye patch overnight, and when he removed it, he could already notice an improvement in his vision.
He says: ‘Immediately, my vision was clearer and it improved over the following two weeks.
‘Every morning when I woke, I’d try to read the writing on the tennis racquets at the other end of my bedroom.
‘And each day, it became clearer until I could read it perfectly.
‘It’s great to be able to play tennis without glasses now. ’
Implants cost from £2,500 per eye. londoneye hospital.com