New eye surgery procedure carried out at Worthing Hospital has given a new lease of life to a lady who could not even see the optician’s eye chart.
Daphne Moore, 75 from Yapton, West Sussex, was struggling to cope as her eyesight had became so poor. She was suffering from Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy, a condition that affects nearly four in a hundred people over the age of 40.
In this condition, the cornea is degraded as the inner lining of the eye wears out. If untreated, near blindness results and the eyes can become very painful. Previously, the only solution was to have a full cornea transplant – a complex procedure carried out under general anaesthetic where recovery would take more than a year with further surgery and contact lens use often needed to ensure adequate vision is returned.
“Thank you – you’ve given me a new lease of life. There aren’t words to describe how I feel and how much I appreciate what you’ve done for me.”
This was the heartfelt sentiment expressed to Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Fook Chang Lam by Mrs Moore, one of the first patients to benefit from new eye surgery he is pioneering at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Previously, the only solution was to have a full cornea transplant – a complex procedure carried out under general anaesthetic where recovery would take more than a year with further surgery and contact lens use often needed to ensure adequate vision is returned.
However, following an eight month scholarship abroad, funded by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Mr Lam has perfected a new technique with impressive results under the tutelage of its inventor, Dr Gerrit Melles of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery.
After undergoing a new procedure called Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty or DMEK, Mrs Moore now boasts driving level eyesight soon after the surgery which was carried out under local anaesthetic at Worthing Hospital.
Mrs Moore said: “It’s so wonderful to have it done and be able to see again after so long. It has really made a new world for me, a new life.”
Her husband, a former woodworker, marvelled at the precision of the procedure which involves a sheet of cells thinner than a single human hair (the thickness of cling film) being inserted into the cornea through an aperture just three millimetres wide.
Apart from a far more rapid recovery of vision that occurs within weeks compared to the months to years with older techniques, this new procedure reduces the chance of a corneal graft rejection from 10 per cent to less than one per cent and it returns patients to a level of vision not previously possible with older techniques.
“It’s just incredible,” said Mr Colin Moore, “and it has totally changed her life because she was really struggling with virtually no sight at all – everything was just a blur.”
The couple reflected on an amazing moment they shared just a day after the surgery when Mr Moore gave his wife some eye drops.
Mrs Moore said: “First I could see his shirt was lovely and white, and then I saw my husband’s face properly for the first time in years – it was just so wonderful.”
The new procedure, now available to people in West Sussex, is only available from a handful of centres internationally, and Mr Lam is proud his patients are getting access to world class ophthalmic surgery close to their home.
The first two patients have already had their vision restored to driving level vision within weeks by this innovative surgery with life-changing results and many more operations have already been scheduled in the coming months.
The Consultant Ophthalmologist, who works at Worthing as well as St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, has been regularly teaching other eye surgeons to perform this new procedure at international conferences in order to spread the many benefits it offers to more and more patients so that they too can enjoy a new lease of life.
Pictured: Mrs Daphne Moore with Consultant Opthalmologist Mr Lam