Life-transforming lenses help Julie remain focused

Pioneering eye surgery has proved a real ‘eye-opener’ for a delighted beautician who has been able to ditch her growing collection of reading glasses.

Julie Young – a bubbly 47-year-old from Lytchett Matravers, Dorset – is one of the first people to have state-of-the-art lenses implanted into her eyes, in a procedure that could revolutionise vision surgery and transform the lives of millions of others.

Like many, the married mother-of-one was suffering from a condition known as presbyopia – the natural ageing process that makes people dependent on reading spectacles as they reach their forties. Steadily her sight was deteriorating and over the past few years Julie found herself more and more reliant on her glasses. Without them she was unable to read, use her mobile phone or see the small dials in her car. It got to the stage where her sight started to affect her work – especially on busy days that could see her performing back-to-back manicures for six hours.

“I would find by the end of the day my eyes were suffering with over-strain,” says Julie, who runs successful beauty business California Secrets from Marc Young Hairdressers – her husband’s chain of four salons based in Poole and Broadstone.

“Initially it was anything really close up that I couldn’t see but it just got worse and worse and I suddenly found it quite debilitating. I was constantly looking for my glasses and often had to think ‘have I got them with me?’ I literally had pairs of glasses everywhere. I had a pair upstairs, downstairs and in my bag. It does start getting very expensive to have new lenses put in every pair as your prescription continues to change.”

Now, however, her life’s been brought back into bright, crisp and clear focus thanks to the expertise of highly respected consultant ophthalmologist Rob Morris and a ground-breaking implantable lens known as the ReSTOR.

Pioneered and manufactured by world-leading eye care company Alcon, the ReSTOR was originally developed to treat cataracts – the leading cause of treatable blindness worldwide. Yet the ReSTOR has proved so successful – and recently received European CE approval for use to treat other sight problems – because unlike traditional lenses used to treat cataracts it allows patients to see clearly at all distances.

“The ReSTOR really is quite an exciting medical breakthrough,” explains Mr Morris, who heads up Grange Eye Consultants.

“The possibilities for the ReSTOR are immense because in addition to offering high-quality near and distance vision to people with cataracts, it now offers the millions of people suffering from presbyopia a genuine alternative to spectacles.

“Presbyopia is caused by an age-related loss in the elasticity of the natural crystalline lens. A young crystalline lens has elastic properties making it very malleable and easily moulded to enable clear near vision. As we get older the consistency of the lens changes. It becomes harder and thicker, making it increasingly difficult to adjust the shape of the lens, which affects its focusing ability and results in problems with near vision.”

He adds: “In the past we were unable to correct presbyopia with more traditional techniques such as laser eye surgery so the benefits of the ReSTOR are likely to be far reaching – particularly among those people like Julie who have been fortunate to have perfect vision until their forties and don’t want to become dependent on spectacles in later life.”

Julie jokes: “It’s bad enough turning 40 but to have your eyesight go as well! It was like a double whammy because I had always had 20:20 vision and literally as soon as I turned 40 I started having problems, which was a bit of a shock! I hated wearing glasses. I could just about accept putting them on to read but it was getting to a point where I was reliant on them. If I went out shopping, I could not read the price tickets or labels or see my mobile phone without them! It’s just fabulous that I don’t have to worry about that any more.”

Julie’s vision was corrected in two operations that were performed a week apart at the Wessex Nuffield hospital in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire. The treatment known as Refractive Lens Exchange is usually performed under local anesthetic, although a general anesthetic can be used if the patient prefers. In either case, the procedure is carried out on a day-case basis.

During the operation a micro-incision is made at the edge of the cornea. A tiny probe is inserted into the eye and the existing lens is gently broken down by ultrasound and removed. The ReSTOR lens is then folded and inserted through the tiny incision. Once in place the lens unfolds into the correct position. As the incision is so small, stitches are rarely needed. Patients can then return home the same day and look forward to a rapid and pain-free recovery. It is an extremely safe procedure with a minimal risk of complications.

“For most people contemplating the treatment it’s the thought of what they are going to do that puts them off,” says Julie. “It sounds awful but in reality it’s not. It was easier than going to the dentist; I can’t fault it. It was completely painless and I worked the day after I had the treatment.”

A delighted Julie adds: “It’s made a huge difference to my life in such a lot of ways. The first thing I noticed was I could read the tiny serial number on the back of the new iPod we had purchased for one of the salons. It was just amazing as before the operation I couldn’t read it with my glasses on, and this was literally the day after! “I’ve just come back from a two-week holiday in Africa and we were travelling around all over the place on planes and spent a lot of time in airports. It was fabulous that I could just get my book out and read without having to hunt around for my glasses. It really is marvellous. I’ve been recommending it to lots of my clients.”

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