A Leamington clinic, the first in Britain to offer an innovative corneal operation designed to allow older people to do without reading glasses, has been overwhelmed with applications from would-be patients.
Opthalmic surgeon Mark Wevill has so far performed six operations at Space Healthcare Clinic to implant a revolutionary corneal lens known as Raindrop in a procedure taking just 10 minutes.
Following national media coverage, almost 300 people have applied from as far afield as Hong Kong to have the tiny lens fitted and surgeons have come from all over Europe to study the technique.
Space director Rob Morgan said: “We’re delighted at the huge response we’ve had. Raindrop’s been very well received in America where it was developed and we always thought it’d be big success over here – but over the past couple of weeks, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and we’ve already had over 100 consultations with people to see if their eyesight would benefit from the procedure.”
Salesman Greg Pawsey, 52, from Rugby was one of the first British patients to receive the Raindrop inlay to treat presbyopia, the condition that causes the eye to lose the ability to change focus from distant to near objects. This is a natural part of ageing and one reason why so many of us begin to need reading glasses in our 40s.
The tiny inlay, a lens the size of a pinhead, is called Raindrop because it is the shape of a droplet.
It corrects near and medium vision by adjusting the curvature of the cornea, causing its central section to become slightly steeper. This helps to overcome presbyopia and many patients like Greg can throw away their reading glasses afterwards.
Greg, the brother of Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, said: “My eyesight started drifting around seven years ago. I work for Burton McCall, and I drive hundreds of miles a week, distributing Swiss watches and I was finding it harder and harder to read Excel spreadsheets and the small print on catalogues.
“Although I had glasses, I was forever losing them which drove me mad. When I heard about the Raindrop implant I was pretty sceptical I’m also quite squeamish and I really hated the idea of anything near my eye but I plucked up courage and thought I’d give it a go.
“The procedure took just 10 minutes and it was far less intrusive than I’d imagined – not at all painful or uncomfortable as they used anaesthetic drops to numb the eye. I was out within an hour and although I couldn’t see much out of that eye for the rest of the day, within two weeks I was reading the newspaper easily.”
The procedure costs £2,495 and is not currently available on the NHS. “Raindrop can’t stop eyes from ageing” explained surgeon Mark Wevill, “but it can help correct the natural deterioration in eyesight caused by the ageing process.
“It appears to be the perfect long-term solution for people whose eyes are simply getting tired with age and who need reading glasses to read a book or a computer screen.”