Would you ditch your reading specs for a silicone lens INSIDE your eye

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 6 August 2012

Many people who have surgery for long or short-sightedness still need reading glasses.

Julie Roberts, 53, an IT manager from Reigate, Surrey, had a new implant that solved this problem.

THE PATIENT
'I knew my sight was only going to get worse with age,' said Julie Roberts

'I knew my sight was only going to get worse with age,' said Julie Roberts

For most of my adult life I’ve been totally dependent on my glasses — something I’ve not enjoyed.

Not only did they make me feel unattractive, but they weren’t always convenient to wear.

In my late 20s I had to get glasses for close-up work such as reading or using the computer.

/08/06/article-2184638-146AA672000005DC-803_468x545.jpg” width=”468″ height=”545″ alt=”On her operation: 'The whole event felt like five minutes rather than 15. After a coffee and a biscuit I went home wearing a clear eye patch' ” class=”blkBorder” />

On her operation: 'The whole event felt like five minutes rather than 15. After a coffee and a biscuit I went home wearing a clear eye patch'

I had the op in October last year. To my relief, I was given a sedative beforehand and because of the local anaesthetic I also couldn’t feel anything — even the clamp used to keep my eye open.

The whole event felt like five minutes rather than 15. After a coffee and a biscuit I went home wearing a clear eye patch.

The next morning when I woke up and took off the eye patch, for the first time in years I could see the time on the bedside clock.

I spent the morning jumping around like a spring lamb, shouting: ‘I can see!’ It was amazing.

The first week was tricky; one eye was recovering and the other still needed doing, so I avoided driving. But I went back to work after two days. Once both eyes were done I was ecstatic.

To celebrate, Tom and I booked a trip to the Maldives and the snorkelling was amazing. It’s brilliant not to have to worry about my sight getting any worse.

Not only that, I also feel younger and more attractive as I’ve no longer got constant dents on my nose from wearing glasses.

I feel like the surgery has taken 20 years off me — I’d recommend it to anyone. I did pay for it myself, but it was definitely worth the money.

THE SURGEON

Michael Jeffrey is an eye surgeon at the Optegra Surrey Eye Hospital and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. He says:

Classic signs of presbyopia are struggling to read things up close

Classic signs of presbyopia are struggling to read things up close

Reading glasses are the preserve of the over-40s due to a condition called presbyopia.

When we are younger, the lenses in our eyes are more flexible and can easily change shape to focus either near or far.

With age, they harden — and as a result it becomes harder to focus clearly on nearby objects.

Classic signs of presbyopia are struggling to read things up close, such as menus.

If you are already long-sighted, as Julie was, it tends to strike earlier. She had suffered presbyopia for some time.

While laser eye surgery works well for younger short-sighted people, it is less suitable in middle age because they are likely to have both short-sightedness and presbyopia. Lasers cannot treat both.

What can be ideal for the over-45s is
an artificial lens. This acts like a varifocal inside the eye, so one
part of it will be used to see things up close, the other part for
things far away.

It treats three things — short-sight, long-sight and presbyopia.

The artificial lens focuses light on to the back of the eye just as a natural, healthy eye lens would.

From here, the light rays are converted into electrical impulses that travel to the brain, where they are then converted into images.

It’s the same principle as a contact lens, but will work much better as it’s implanted inside the eye rather than on the surface.

With Clarivu, the type of lenses used are high enough quality that we can also treat those whose prescription is very severe and who may have other complications, whereas other types of lens may not be good enough.

Lenses can also be personalised to correct astigmatism, where the eye is an irregular shape.

The other advantage of replacing the eye’s natural lens is that it will prevent cataracts from occurring in the future — or treat them at the same time if they are already there.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that happens with age. Most people over 60 will have a cataract, even though it may not yet affect their vision.

The procedure takes just 20 minutes per eye under local anaesthetic.

First, we make a 2mm incision on the surface of the eye. We then use an ultrasound machine to break up the natural lens, which is sucked out.

The ‘bag’ the lens sits in is left in place. Into this we place the new, artificial lens. The lens is made from medical acrylic or silicone. It is round and has little legs on its surface to hold it in place.

We roll it into a tube shape and inject it into the bag with a needle; it then opens itself up inside the eye. The incision through which we work is so small that it seals itself up without stitches.

An hour or two after surgery the patient should be able to see properly.

They then go home the same day with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, which they use for four weeks.

There is a small risk of infection, inflammation or bleeding, but this is rare.

The majority of people do extremely well with this procedure.

Clarivu Total Vision Correction costs 3,495 per eye. It is not available on the NHS. For more information, visit optegra.com.