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New Treatments For Eye Disorders

Jun 12, 2008
There are many things a person can to do look after the health of their eyes. As with most things, prevention is always going to be better than cure and as such, a healthy diet will cure more ailments than you ever thought you could possibly get in one lifetime. Add to this the protection a decent pair of sunglasses offers and with regular check-ups you will be doing all you can to protect your eyes.

If an eye problem is detected there are things that can either cure or at least help the condition. Myopia, or short sightedness, can sometimes be corrected with laser treatment but is not suitable for everyone. For those people a new procedure is being piloted in Harley Street, London to implant corrective contact lenses within the eyes. Contact lenses are normally a good alternative to glasses but not everyone is suitable.

The procedure involves the eye being cut and a corrective lens being placed over the natural one. The lens will never need replacing and the operation is carried out under local anaesthetic on one eye at a time to reduce the risk of infection. The results have been startling and make the life of the short-sighted person much more manageable. It also means they are able to buy store sunglasses as opposed to prescription sunglasses.

There are several measures to ensure a patient is suitable for the implants, mainly making sure the prescription is not likely to change in the near future. Short-sightedness can be corrected with laser treatment if the prescription is not too strong but it does involve cutting away some of the cornea. If the prescription is very strong then too much cornea has to be cut away, posing a risk to the long term sight of the patient. That is when contact lens implants are the best option.

A thin, plastic lens is placed on top of the natural one providing there is enough space. A 3D map of the eyeball will assess whether or not this is so. The lenses contain a small amount of collagen which is a naturally occurring substance and means the eye will not reject the lens. If the patient changes their mind at a later date, the lens can simply be removed.

The only bad bit of news is the fact that the operation is not available on the NHS and private clinics charge almost 2,400 pounds per eye for the implants.
Hyperopia is the term for long sightedness and this is also easily treated with laser surgery but is much cheaper than the new procedure for myopia at only 400 pounds per eye.

The fact that we should wear sunglasses to protect our eyes has long been taken with a pinch of salt by so many but those now experiencing macular degeneration due to sun exposure in their younger years are wishing they had listened. This is a debilitating illness that could have been prevented, in many cases, by simply wearing sunglasses when the sun is shining.

However, new treatments are being developed all the time. Photodynamic therapy is one such method that uses a light sensitive dye injected into the bloodstream and transported to the back of the eye. Once there, the chemical highlights the blood vessels that are growing abnormally and a low energy laser beam is then shone onto the macula, the area at the centre of the retina. Working in conjunction with the light, the chemical then reacts and destroys the leaking blood vessels without any damage to healthy tissue.

More than one treatment is often needed but it is hoped the new procedure will help up to 7,000 people a year in the UK so is definitely something worth watching. The fact that it can macular degeneration can progress rapidly is also a very good reason to keep wearing the sunglasses.
About the Author
Optical expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way the protection of sunglasses is just one small way we can look after our eyes.
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