ONE GIANT LEAP FOR EYESIGHT Hubble Telescope Technology to Save Sight of Millions

4161In a world-first breakthrough in optical implants, technology that was used to fix the Hubble Telescope has been implemented into a lens that can save the sight of millions of people worldwide. Until now, there has been no widely accepted treatment for sufferers of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in over 55s.

In the most significant development in the treatment of AMD in the last 25 years, a British surgeon and an award-winning optical physicist together developed a new and revolutionary telescope made of flexible material that can be inserted into an incision of less than 3mm – a 10 minute procedure any cataract-trained surgeon around the world may comfortably perform.

The iolAMD lens now has regulatory approval and clinical trials have been verified its success. The iolAMD lens is a world-first that could mean millions of people will be able to drive, read, watch television and recognise faces again. The lens is effective in the treatment of dry AMD, established wet forms of AMD, and other macular diseases including diabetic maculopathy (fats leaking into the retina) caused by diabetes.

The iolAMD lens uses technology that was developed after NASA scientists noticed that images from the Hubble Telescope were out of focus and fuzzy. To counteract this, they developed an advanced solution using minute changes (adaptive optics) that successfully reduced the effects of distortion, compensating for imperfections. Building on the same approach, consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Bobby Qureshi, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of the London Eye Hospital Pharma (HYPERLINK “http://www.londoneyehospitalpharma.com”www.londoneyehospitalpharma.com), joined forces with Professor Pablo Artal – the first-ever European winner of the prestigious Edward H Land Award for scientific contributions to the advancement of visual optics – to tackle the historical challenges of AMD treatment.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in over 55s in the developed world, with more than 200-300 million worldwide. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be nearly 1 million cases of AMD in the Middle East alone, due to the rising number of people living to an older age. It is a progressive condition which affects the central vision, eventually leading to loss of sight. Previous attempts to solve this problem have involved a riskier surgical procedure, which requires a much larger incision (comparable to open heart surgery v. keyhole) through which the lens is implanted. The old-generation procedure is complex, the chances of complications high and most modern eye surgeons have been reluctant to perform it, therefore surgery is rarely, if ever, on offer to patients.

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Bobby Qureshi says:

“This is not just the next step but a giant leap in optical technology. It is immeasurably satisfying to have had a role in creating a solution which can benefit such a wide range of people for whom, at the moment, there is no treatment.”

Professor Pablo Artal, who is founder and director of the internationally-renown Laboratorio de Optica at the University of Murcia, says:

“Bobby first approached me with a ‘wish list’ of what he hoped could be accomplished. Working with the London Eye Hospital Pharma has meant that we could progress things very quickly – I’m thrilled the ideas for iolAMD have finally become reality.”

According to 69 year-old retired ad executive Veronica Mackay, who is married with two children and based in Bury, England;

“I noticed my vision deteriorating over several years, and after suffering an injury in my left eye, went to see my optician. As they were treating my left eye, I noticed that I could not see from my right eye, and so made an appointment to see a specialist. I was diagnosed with AMD, and, when I asked how long it would be before I went blind, the specialist shrugged. I felt quite afraid; I was not ready to lose my sight.

“My poor vision affected every aspect of my life. I could not thread a needle, see to read, or see my computer. I was afraid to drive. I had to rely on friends and family to do things for me. I couldn’t even pluck my eyebrows. My husband spent a lot of time researching, and one day found that the London Eye Hospital were offering telescopic lens implants for AMD, and so I contacted them. When they started to offer the iolAMD lens, they offered it to me as they deemed it ideal for my vision problems. I jumped at the chance, and had both eyes done in March this year. A few days after the first operation, I noticed a huge difference in my vision. It was amazing. The lenses have absolutely changed my life; they have given me back what I had, and, most importantly, my independence. I can read emails, text, thread needles and do anything I want to do! I feel amazing and no longer have to accept that I am going blind. I would recommend it to anyone. My heartfelt thanks goes to a brilliant surgeon and his professional team.”


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