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Barbara, a 78 year old sufferer of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 55 in the UK – is one of the first people in the world to benefit from revolutionary new surgery, at the private hospital Spire Southampton Hospital, for the condition.

Until now, there was no treatment for AMD which has reached epidemic proportions in the UK, due to lifestyle factors and the ageing population, with 1 in 3 people affected by the age of 75. Mr Andrew Luff, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Spire Southampton Hospital, part of Spire Healthcare, a group of 25 private hospitals, is one of the first clinicians in the UK – and indeed the world - to perform the operation.

Barbara is the first of Mr Luff’s patients to receive IOL-VIP. She was diagnosed with AMD six years ago and operated on in November 2007.

“It’s a devastating condition. I lost my central vision which meant I couldn’t see things that were right in front of me, including people’s faces and even the food on my plate. I couldn’t read, going out to dinner was impossible, my husband had to learn to cook and I was forced to stop driving. For someone who has always been totally self-reliant it’s a dreadful disability.

Known as the Intraocular Lens for Visually Impaired People (IOL-VIP) the process involves two plastic lenses being inserted into the eye. The lens behind the iris is a minifying glass and the lens in front is a magnifying glass. The combined effect is similar to that of a telescopic lens producing a larger image on the retina and so improving the patient’s near and far sight.

The short day-case procedure is performed under local anaesthesia at the private hospital, and patients generally see an improvement in their vision the very next day as the telescopic effect is immediately apparent. Four weeks after surgery new glasses can be prescribed to maximise the benefits of the surgery. IOL-VIP treatment can be performed in isolation or following cataract surgery as most people with AMD also have a degree of cataract.

Barbara continues: “Then I heard about Mr Luff and his new procedure. The operation was completely painless and stress-free; it was all over in half an hour. When I removed my eye patch the next day I saw things I hadn’t seen for years and the colours were just wonderful. Life is so different now; I can shop in the supermarket and am hoping to start using the computer again. My long distance vision is greatly improved and the clinic is now teaching how me to perfect my sight,” she said.

Speaking about the new system, Mr Luff said: “Macular disease limits vision by producing a blind spot or area of impaired sight. The effect of IOL-VIP is to enlarge the image around the blind sport so that the area of impairment has less impact on the patient’s overall vision.

“In most people the degree of macular degeneration is different in each eye. In this instance the lenses are inserted only into the better eye. In patients where the loss of vision is similar in both eyes the lenses can be incorporated into them both.

“Sometimes people such as Barbara who have the lenses inserted find that the system works better if they look just ‘off centre’ away from the spot of impaired vision. We use a special computer programme to train these patients to find the best viewing point,” he said.

People seeking more details on IOL-VIP should contact Spire Southampton Hospital on 02380 775544 or email spiresouthamptoninfo@spirehealthcare.com. To request an information pack please call 07727 285912 and provide your postal address.

For further information on the treatment at Spire Southampton Hospital please visit www.spirehealthcare.com.



For more media information contact:

Petra Steiner
Business Development Manager
Spire Southampton Hospital
Tel: 02380 764327
Email: Petra.steiner@spirehealthcare.com

Note to editors:

Spire Healthcare is one of the leading independent hospital providers in the UK with a 25-year heritage in customer service and clinical excellence. It was formed in 2007 from the sale of BUPA hospitals to leading private equity company Cinven.

Spire Healthcare has 35 hospitals across the UK, providing services for private and insured patients as well as NHS-funded patients under the government’s ‘Choose and Book’ scheme. It also offers cosmetic and weight-loss surgery.

Its hospitals carry more than 160,000 in-patients and day-care treatments a year and work with over 3,000 consultants. It is proud to be the first independent hospital group to publish clinical outcome data.

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