We speak to the first NHS patient to benefit from the 20-minute procedure that uses computer imaging to help guide the laser.
Victus laser surgery is available to NHS patients via the Choose and Book system. Ask your GP for details or contact us here
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SEEING IS BELIEVING: Violet's life has been transformed by the short operation [JOHNNY GRIEG]
She says: “It’s incredible. The whole operation only took about 20 minutes.
“when I took the eye patch off the next day my vision was so good and everything so bright I wanted to put on sunglasses.”
Violet, 60, a book-keeper from Horne in Surrey, had previously feared she would lose her sight.
She had seen two opticians who reassured her that glasses would solve her problems. The first pair did nothing to stop the steady deterioration of her vision and the second pair made it worse.
Violet was forced to give up her needlework hobby and didn’t feel safe driving. She says: “I couldn’t see the television, I couldn’t read, I couldn’t use the computer, I couldn’t drive. I felt I might as well give up.”
She was referred to an ophthalmologist who found she had cataracts in both eyes. Dr Sheraz Daya, an international expert on laser surgery and the man who saved her sight, says: “As you get older the lens in your eye becomes harder and cloudy.
“Everyone will get cataracts if they live long enough.”
Around 720,000 people are diagnosed with cataracts every month and it’s estimated that half of people over the age of 65 have cataracts in both eyes.
Too much sunshine, smoking and a family history of the condition increase the odds of developing problems and a recent study suggested statins may also raise the risk. The only way to restore sight is to cut into the membrane protecting the eye to remove the damaged lens and replace it with an artificial one.
LASER surgery which makes cataract operations quicker and safer and leaves patients with perfect sight within 24 hours is now available on the NHS. Violet Baldry was the first health service patient to undergo the Victus laser treatment.
Conventional surgery involves a small cut into the surface of the eye and using an ultrasound probe to break up and remove the damaged lens.
Dr Daya, medical director of the Centre for Sight in East Grinstead, Sussex, says: “It is the most common operation performed worldwide.
“If something were to go wrong during the operation it is normally when we tear the membrane. If the tear goes out or cuts through the lens you can wind up with complications.”
The Victus laser system offered by the NHS uses computer imaging to guide the laser which reduces risks of tears and allows the surgeon to create a perfect circle to hold the new lens. Dr Daya says this improves results and minimises swelling and soreness afterwards.
With conventional surgery it may take a week or so before the full impact of the procedure is apparent. But Violet’s sight was transformed overnight.
Faster healing also means that if both eyes are affected the second one can be treated within days rather than weeks. Violet had both eyes done in one week.
In most cases the artificial lens can be tailored to correct any other sight problems so patients no longer need glasses.
Violet says: “I didn’t know what to expect but I was so lucky it was available. I can’t believe how easy and painless it was.”
Victus laser surgery is available to NHS patients via the Choose and Book system. Ask your GP for details or contact us here.