See the bigger picture: Vision correction and good eye care are vital for health


Dr Low performs a high-resolution scan of the front segment of the eye to determine suitability for laser or implantable contact lenses.

By Dr Sancy Low

Are you over 50 years old and struggling to see at a distance and up close?

The prevalence of short-sightedness (myopia) is increasing, and high myopia is associated with problems such as retinal detachments and glaucoma. It is often hereditary so families with individuals that need glasses and contact lenses for more than six dioptres (-6.00DS or more) can have siblings, cousins and extended relatives who have the same problem.

Your children may also be affected, and have astigmatism, an optical problem that causes blurring, making letters such as N look like H, or D look like O.

Eye strain can also be a constant daily problem. After the age of 40, the natural lens in the eye starts losing its ability to focus for distance and anything up close. People start needing reading glasses for presbyopia. A combination of myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia means lifelong expenditure on spectacles and contact lenses in order to be able to function daily.

We believe good vision is an essential part of living well. People may like to approach this in different ways. If there is a family history of retinal detachment or glaucoma, there can be a fear of sight loss, so you may resign yourself to a lifetime of spectacle wear. However, there is a better way. Glaucoma is preventable. Laser and cataract or lens surgery to treat high myopia is safe. There are additional risk factors than just family history, such as the corneal thickness (the front window of your eye), the amount of myopia, the condition of your retina (back of the eye), your eye pressure and peripheral vision. Your optometrist may already be checking this for you on an annual basis.

You may also have started to develop early cataracts, or diabetes. At our clinic we specialise in premium results for vision correction, which means we consider your health problems, and lifestyle factors that are important to you, such as driving, cooking and reading with your grandchildren. And your professional life might mean you read detailed long documents and work at a computer many hours a day.

We find a solution to monitor your eye health and correct your vision with laser and lens surgery safely, so you can do the things you care about with ease.

What solutions I can consider?

Next-generation laser refractive surgery (Smile and Presbyond) are as safe as using contact lenses for vision correction because the risk of contact lens infection causing sight loss is 1:4,000.

Seeking professional advice early is better than waiting for sight loss to occur. Early detection is associated with better outcomes. Seeing a specialist gives you an overview of the status of your vision, know more about your risk factors, and how to influence these.

You may also be worried about a family member and would like to give them “a gift of sight” so they can enjoy their daily activities again. By the age of 70, most people have visually significant cataracts but have very gradually got used to it, so they do not report problems. There may be reduced vision that can be improved by surgery safely.

Most people who have NHS cataract surgery still need glasses after treatment. Newer intraocular lens implants (IOLs) have extended depth of focus and other properties that need to be matched properly to your eye condition and lifestyle needs to get precision outcomes. These reduce spectacle dependence. We will provide you with the best pre-operative and surgery aftercare.

What if I am interested, but not ready?

Taking the plunge to have laser or cataract surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. Implantable contact lenses can be considered if there are no cataracts but high myopia that is becoming difficult to correct with glasses and contact lenses. Our clinic is up to date with the latest technology and will find a solution that works for you, including delaying surgery till you are ready, advising you appropriately. The important thing is booking your initial consultation, so you have time to make one of the most important decisions to correct your vision and improve your health.

Dr Sancy Low is a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Guys and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. She is dually qualified in glaucoma and refractive surgery, performing more than 500 refractive and cataract surgeries a year. She runs a family-friendly private practice from The Wimpole Eye Clinic, 46 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8SD. Locations for surgery are in SE1, W1 and N12

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