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See More Clearly Through Designer Sunglasses

Feb 26, 2008
Designer sunglasses are not just a fashion statement. They serve a vital purpose. In the age of decreased ozone layer and environmental concerns the cases of cataracts seen in hospitals has greatly increased.

This is due, in part, to sun damage. Not realising the damaging effects in younger life, may people have exposed their eyes to the powerful force of UV rays for years without the protection of designer sunglasses, or in fact, any sunglasses.

Cataracts are a clouding of the eyes natural lens leading to impaired vision and, if left, blindness.

This has led to scientists looking for easier and simpler solutions to repair the damage. Cataract repair operations have been available since the 1970's. At that time, a 12mm incision would be made, the natural damaged lens removed and a replacement put in place.

They patient would need stitches, risking infection, and would be seen with several follow up appointments.
Medical advancements then made it possible for cataracts to be repaired by using two incisions in the cornea of a 3.5mm size. Science has now made it to the stage where surgeons can operate on cataracts through a hole the size of a full stop.

Two tiny incisions of 1.8mm are made in the cornea, old, damaged lenses broken up with ultrasound and removed from the holes. A new lens can then be rolled up and inserted through a small plastic tube. Once in place the new lens will open up like a flower and sight is restored. Most patients have immediate vision that improves over the following days.

If designer sunglasses were worn whenever possible, it would be possible to cut back on many of the 300,000 cataract operations that are carried out in the UK every year. This is the most common surgical procedure in hospitals but probably the easiest prevented too.

The machine making all this possible is the Stellaris. Being bought up by many NHS hospitals, it brings a pleasant relief to see hospital funds being put to such good use.

Operations with the Stellaris take a mere 15 minutes, as opposed to the hour previously set aside. This will have the knock on effect of getting more patients seen quicker, reducing waiting lists and restoring sight quicker.

Carried out under local anaesthetic eye drops, it is a much safer, less painful and less invasive procedure than what was necessary before. It does not require stitches, the holes are so small that they will be left to heal themselves. The fact that the holes are so small and do not need stitching will greatly reduce the risk of infection and follow up appointments will not be necessary in most cases.

It's truly marvellous that cataracts can be repaired with such a simple procedure and a god send for people who are suffering from impaired vision. But maybe there should be more education in how to prevent the condition in the first place. Of course, some cases come about purely through age but the majority of cataract problems are from sun damage.

This fact is upheld by the space programmes who have found an increased prevalence of eye damage in astronauts. Astronauts are supplied with designer sunglasses to help prevent the problem occurring and we could all learn a valuable lesson from this.
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way designer sunglasses could help prevent cataracts. To find out more please visit http://www.site91.co.uk/
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