Refractive lens surgery

What is refractive lens surgery?

Refractive lens surgery, sometimes called lens replacement surgery, is a surgical procedure to replace the natural lens of the eye with an artificial one of preselected power.

It is used to correct short sight (myopia), long sight (hyperopia) and astigmatism and is often recommended when a patient is not regarded as a good candidate for laser eye surgery. Laser techniques change the shape of the cornea in the eye, so some people are unsuitable for different reasons, such as being over 40 years old, having a cornea that is too thin or that their eyes have too great a spectacle error.

Your ophthalmic surgeon will assess your suitability for different treatments in their initial consultation with you. After undergoing surgery your sight will greatly improved and you should have good unaided normal vision.

What does this involve?

Refractive Lens surgery is effectively the same procedure that patients undergo when having a cataract removed. It does not normally require a hospital stay as it involves a short operation of around twenty to thirty minutes, usually carried out under local anaesthetic, which ensures the operation is painless.

Firstly your eye is treated with eye drops to dilate your pupil and then anaesthetic is administered through a tiny tube under the eye, without the need for any sharp needles. Although you may see some light and movement, you will not be able to see the surgery while it is happening, and you will not have to worry about keeping your eye open or closed

The natural lens will be removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant. This will be done by using ultrasound to break the lens into pieces and then removing it through a small cut in your eye. The cut is so small it does not even need stitches. Your new lens is then implanted into the same place that the natural lens occupied and is held in place by the original lens membrane.

Once the operation is complete your eye will normally be covered by a clear plastic shield and you can rest for a while before your departure.

When will I recover?

You should be able to go home a few hours after the surgery and you will need to use the prescribed eye drops and be careful not to rub or press on your eye. Your normal daily life can be resumed although you should avoid strenuous exercise for a couple of weeks.

Your vision should improve over the first 24 - 48 hours and we will normally see you again within the first week after the operation to check on your progress and provide any advice and support you need.

You should see your Optician four to five weeks after surgery to check your requirement for glasses - this delay allows your eye to fully settle before being assessed. The operation is designed to ensure you have good unaided distance vision though it can mean that reading glasses may be needed depending upon your normal quality of vision.

What risks should I know about?

Refractive Lens surgery is a regularly performed operation worldwide and is considered to be quite safe. Most patients do not suffer any complications or side effects but we should mention those complications that can occur, even though it is in less than 0.1% of occasions.

  • Bleeding at the back of your eye which can disturb vision
  • Some pain after the operation which can be helped by over the counter pain medication
  • Infection inside the eye
  • Tearing of the very delicate lens membrane that holds the new lens
  • Retinal detachment
  • Although these conditions are potentially treatable, they could, in some very extreme cases, result in loss of vision in the affected eye

A Patient's Experience at Circle Bath

45-year-old Kathryn Jackson had worn glasses since she was a young child. She recently had lens replacement surgery to correct her eyesight.

"I was longsighted, and my prescription was a +9, so I couldn't do anything or go anywhere without my glasses," Kathryn explains. "About five years ago I asked my optometrist what my options were, as I had tried contacts, but I didn't get on with them, and I had been told that my eye sight would deteriorate further. At the time I was told that there was nothing that could be done for me.

Towards the end of last year I thought I'd look into it again. When I went for my initial appointment, Mr Luck was able to identify exactly what was wrong with my eyesight almost immediately and this gave me enormous confidence.

I had each eye done separately, with four weeks between each operation. When I went for my check up a week after the first eye was done, Mr Luck even told me that my eyesight was going to be better than his and that the surgery had stopped any further deterioration of my vision. CircleBath's facilities and staff were top class and I could not fault anything about the way I was treated.

It's been a life-changing experience - it's an unbelievable feeling to be able to see clearly when I wake up in the morning, after a lifetime of wearing glasses. I live on a farm and ride horses so it's great to have that flexibility now - rain and fog is no longer a problem. I've also realised that I feel more confident - something I wasn't expecting.

I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who had considered it but was too worried about doing anything."

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