LIFE CHANGING – My experiences with Multifocal Refractive Lens Exchange
Two weeks ago on 12th April 2016 I had the first of two operations to correct my slowly deteriorating vision for both near and distance. I have now had both my eyes done and this is a diary/blog of my own personal experiences of the procedure.
What is it
Refractive lens exchange is generally considered for people over the age of 45 years old who already have problems with their near vision. Such people will be most likely wearing varifocals, bifocals, separate distance and reading glasses or be wearing multifocal contact lenses. I have been wearing two different strength contact lenses for over 20 years.
Put simply, the refractive lens exchange procedure involves removing your eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens (lens implant) whose power is calculated to eliminate the prescription in your glasses or contact lenses. The natural lens inside your eye sits inside a lens capsule (like a bag) and when it is removed this capsule is left intact. The new artificial lens is then placed back into this capsule in the exact same position as your natural lens was located before it was removed.
Who is Refractive Lens Exchange Suitable For?
Refractive lens exchange is generally recommended for people over 45 years old and this is because at this age people will have already started to develop the natural ageing process of the lens within your eye which results in reduced ability to focus things close to you e.g. reading or screen work.
Multifocal refractive lens exchange:
This is similar in design to a multi-focal contact lens or varifocal glasses in that there are different power zones on the lens for different visual requirements. E.g. there are zones on the lens for distance, intermediate and near vision. Such a lens relies on your brain to select the appropriate zone for a particular distance and therefore it is important that people considering such a lens have had a successful trial of multi-focal contact lenses.
Close up was worse than distance for me, notwithstanding we live in a world where close up is most of our focusing day. It’s an interesting time when researching things like this; I described it to a client by saying “it’s a bit like shopping for a parachute – You wouldn’t be looking for a bargain, or a cheap deal.
You will be looking for the best, trusted and most reliable option on the market.” So I sought many recommendations and did plenty of homework to find the best “parachute” for me. In the end it was a chance comment on a Facebook message from an Optician that got me to check out Optegra Eye hospital in Whitely Hampshire. To put it simply, this place is AMAZING. The staff, the ambience, the building, the services. Everything about the process here was incredibly well done. A place where I’d be happy to buy a parachute, or new eyes for that matter!
First Visit – Initial Consultation (Free of charge)
We started with some eye measurements and eye sight tests done to ensure I was a suitable candidate and that I would be fitted with the most appropriate lens should I wish to go ahead. I then got to meet with the consultant surgeon.
Unlike some other eye care centres, this meeting was actually with the eye consultant who would be performing the procedure (Robert Morris). He very clearly described the process, helped me to understand my options and answered my most challenging questions – like “WHERE DO I SIGN UP!?” and “HOW QUICKLY CAN YOU DO THIS!”
Second Visit – Left eye operation. (Approximately three weeks after the consultation)
Again, the whole process was very slick, professional, but also incredibly relaxed. Eye drops are added to dilate the pupil and local anaesthetic added (for obvious reasons!) Did I mention this procedure is undertaken whilst you are awake? Eeek!
I discovered it is possible the request a sedative, (and apparently about 50% take the option), but I elected to stay compos mentis as I wanted to be aware of this life changing experience.
Final chat with my world class surgeon! (Robert Morris) then it’s into the theatre for the op. I won’t go into much detail, suffice to say it isn’t particularly pleasant, but there really isn’t any pain either. There is a sensation of when the old lens is destroyed and removed and when the new lens is inserted and some (albeit) blurred vision is restored. Total procedure time is literally 8-10 minutes.
Once I was back in the recovery area I had a cup of tea, a biscuit and a run-down of the eye drops regime I needed to use for the next 4 weeks. Initially 4 times a day reducing to twice a day. This is anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. Also, some local anaesthetic drops in case I had some pain later on.
Post Op – Day one
Dilated pupil means I was very sensitive to light and looked pretty weird, this lasted about two days. I felt very tired mid-afternoon – (3 hours after the op.) Some discomfort, but no real pain. I laid down and slept for a couple of hours. Vision was very blurry in the left eye. Similar to how I would imagine Vaseline over the eye.
Slept well, no pain. Back to work! Vision was really quite clear, maybe a little blurry on the outer edges.
Something that became very evident was not just the clarity that was kicking in after less than 24 hours, but also the vibrant and vivid colours I was starting to see differently compared to my right eye. Whites were whiter and colours were much more vibrant. Alternating left and right eye I could clearly see brighter and clearer colours through my new lens. HAPPY DAYS! I did notice some haloing around bright lights and headlights. This was especially pronounced when there was a dark background. The moon for example had a full clear “halo” around it. I was advised to expect some of this, but also that it should settle.
Slept well, no pain, full day’s work. Now can’t wait for the second eye to be done. I feel a little lopsided because I have one eye able to see both short and long distances in focus. I tried removing the left lens from one of my many pairs of (soon to become redundant) glasses, but this felt strange to wear.
The haloing effect is still there. But the blurriness has pretty much gone.
Rest of the week.
Continued to improve focus and clarity. Haloing is now only evident on bright lights (like car headlights/taillights). But during the day I am able to read my phone, work on my screen, watch some TV and see distance objects without glasses.
Third Visit – Right eye operation. (7 days after the first eye operation)
We started with an eye test on my left eye today. Confirmation that this is now working with 20/20 vision. AWESOME! The process for eye two is the repeat of eye one. Mr Morris (Consultant) recommended we use a slightly better short distance lens for close work in my right eye. I agreed.
Surgery was as before and all went to plan. Came home and felt exactly as I had done the week before. Groggy, tired and had a snooze in the afternoon. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend it, I was actually out socialising the evening of the second operation. This gives an indication of how little pain or discomfort I experienced. Interesting to note my left is pretty much completely healed after just 7 days. (Image above left)
Slept well, no pain. Opened my eyes 06:00 to see the world (reasonably) clearly for the first time without lens of glasses in over 30 years. Wowzers! – That’s an emotional moment right there!
Day three to seven
I am now just about 2 weeks after the first eye was done. My eyesight has improved daily as my brain starts to make the best use of these multifocal implants.
I have some haloing and occasional blurring from bright lights (but only at night) I can read my phone clearly, see my computer screen pin sharp and look into the distance with clarity. After less than 2 weeks I personally thinks it’s INCREDIBLE.
I have not experienced ANY PAIN that would need pain relief. I have had the occasional headache after watching a screen for long periods. I have had one instance when my eyes felt strained as if I would want to remove my glasses, but of course I can’t. But that soon passed.
Based on my experience and understanding there may be a small compromise which is some potential haloing around bright lights. I have been told that this should settle down too and I shouldn’t really judge this until we are six months in.
Good bye to these!!
So this is just my personal insight and experience of Multifocal Refractive Lens Exchange. If you struggle with multiple pairs of glasses, varifocals and different contact lens you might want to check this procedure out. I am not affiliated nor have I been paid to write this article by Optegra Eye Health Care. However, if you are looking for a parachute, I’d personally look no further than Optegra.
As always your, comments and shares are always welcome.
*** EYE SURGERY UPDATE – AFTER 8 MONTHS ***
I have had a few requests for a “post-op” update on my implants. So here you go….
This procedure has been life changing for me. No pain, no discomfort, no reactions or rejections. My eyesight is now officially the best it has ever been in my life (officially 20/20). I really can’t put into words how amazing it has been to have my eyesight restored in 2016 and the positive impact it has had on my life.
So, whats the catch? – If I really had to nit-pick to find some negatives they would be these.
- In poor light my ability to read really small print is very slightly impaired. – Seeing small print on a menu in a dark restaurant for example.
- I do occasionally get the infamous “halo effect” around bright lights that have a dark background. For example the moon, car tail lights, street lamps, bright LEDs. But this isn’t every time and certainly isn’t life impacting.
- Lastly, I think my eyes get tired more often now, however, this may simply be due age and my new found opportunity/ability to spend far too much time in front of screens and see with clarity!
All in all, the decision to have this life changing procedure is a personal one. I viewed it as one of lifes risk/reward decisions. As the surgeon pointed out to me before the operation. Much of the success/failure on procedures like this start with the mind set of the individual as it does the procedure itself. For me I expected it to be life changing, remarkable and a great decision – and so it certainly has been. I now look forward to spending the second half of my life totally glasses free and be able to see clearly for every waking second of each day.
Please feel free to post your questions, comments here. Please also take a second to share the post for anyone you know that might be interested. Ian D.