She was desperate for laser eye surgery after she was left money in a will but Jessica Bloom did not realise it would put her sight in danger. Playing netball at a national and regional level, Jessica, 26, was sick of relying on contact lenses and decided laser eye surgery would improve her life. But, Milind Pande, the UK’s leading eye surgeon based at Vision Surgery and Research Centre in East Yorkshire, realised Jessica risked post-operative complications which might not have been pointed out by other firms offering laser treatment which did not check her medical history.
Now Jessica, originally from Beverley and a former law student at the University of Sheffield, has better than 20/20 vision after undergoing Implantable Contact Lens (ICL) treatment, where artificial lenses were fitted into her eyes.
Jessica said: “Mr Pande told me he couldn’t guarantee as high a success rate as he would like with laser surgery because I’d been on a course of medication for acne which affected the healing process. “He didn’t think I was an appropriate patient for laser surgery, even though high street firms might have gone ahead. While I was initially upset, I had to listen to him because of the risks.”
Mr Pande said: “Jessica had severe acne for which she was put on medication –Roaccutane – which alters the healing on the surface of the skin as well as the surface of the eye. It increases the uncertainty in terms of the healing patterns after people have this kind of treatment and is one of the contra-indications of laser eye surgery. If the healing pattern is unpredictable, you are likely not to get the outcome your were looking for so her vision after surgery might not have been that good but there were also safety issues as you sometimes get severe inflammation on the surface of the eye so perhaps there is the possibility of a reduction in vision afterwards.”
“It is very important to look at the full history of the patient, not just of the eye, but of the overall general medical history.” Jessica wore glasses from the age of 10 for short-sightedness but the dryness of her eyes meant she could only wear contact lenses for up to four hours a day, inserting eye drops after two. She faced the expense of buying contact lenses to change three times a day or wear her glasses permanently and the inheritance offered her the chance of surgery.
“I wanted to use the money for something worthwhile,” she said. During an initial consultation, Mr Pande noted that Jessica had taken medication to treat acne three times in the past which interferes with the body’s natural healing process.
Jessica said: “I had done some research before going to see Mr Pande. I knew he was an expert in the field so I had to listen to him. I was gutted initially because I really wanted to go ahead with laser surgery but he explained why it was such a risk and said straight away that I would be an ideal patient for intraocular lens surgery.”
Mr Pande said intraocular lens surgery involved a lens being fitted into the eyeball behind the pupil to correct vision without removing the natural lens. He said: “In this type of surgery, we put a lens inside the eyeball behind the pupil. In a younger person, the natural lens is totally normal and we have to correct the focal error. It is additive technology and is not subject to the same kind of healing pattern as in either laser surgery or lens exchange surgery.”
Jessica’s first operation under general anaesthetic took place last February but post-operative checks revealed the lens was less than half a millimetre too big and had to be replaced.
Mr Pande said: “When we put the new lens in, we have to estimate the dimensions of the lens which will sit inside the eyeball based on the external dimensions, and the manufacturer uses a formulae to work out which size needs to be fitted as there are four or five different sizes. When Jessica had her first lens fitted, she was seeing very well with no pain but I told her the lens would have to come out because it was not sitting correctly.”
“She was a bit surprised but it would have led to problems in the medium to long-term and we ordered a size smaller. This sometimes happens in patients who fall between two sizes but it is easily fixed.”
Her second operation took place a few weeks later and Jessica was amazed by the difference in her sight. “As soon as the patch was removed, I could tell the difference,” she said. “I could see the clock on the wall and the television clearly. “It made a massive difference. I was so happy and so pleased that I had gone ahead with it and it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself. My sight wasn’t that terrible but having this done has taken away all the hassle of changing contact lenses or having to wear my glasses. When I played netball before, I was always worried that if I sprinted too fast, my lenses would become dislodged and I’d have to stop to put them back in the right place. I don’t have to think about that now.”
Jessica, who is preparing to start a training programme with a law firm in Leeds, recommended Vision Surgery and Research Centre as the place to go for anyone wanting the best advice to achieve better eyesight. She said: “Mr Pande put my best interests first and I felt completely safe because I know he is an expert in his field.”
“He explained everything at every stage and if I’d gone to a different provider, I could have gone ahead with laser surgery without fully knowing the risks. I never felt any pressure to go ahead. He just gave me the information I needed and I was able to make my own decision. My experience was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone.”
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