Multifocal Intraocular Lenses: a happy ending to cataracts

Cataracts are a major public health problem accounting for 51% of associated blindness. The solution is exclusively surgical. This surgical technique has gone through an extraordinary development in recent years. The treatment involves removal of the cataract and the placement of a multifocal intraocular lens, for the correction of both short- and long-sighted vision.

Cataract removal is perhaps the most common type of surgical procedure performed today. It is estimated that 22 million procedures are carried out each year, resulting in the exponential development of surgical methods and associated technology. The growing need for this intervention is associated with demographic changes linked to the ageing process, a major reason for the appearance of cataracts.

Cataracts are a disease of the eye and consist in partial or total opaqueness of the lens and/or of the capsule. The lens acts in a refractive capacity enabling the eye to focus on close-up images. Several factors are associated to the appearance of cataracts, the main causes being age and diabetes.

The main symptom of cataracts is a gradual loss of vision, both far and near, which does not improve with the use of spectacles. In addition to a substantial loss of vision, the patient may lose quality vision. The symptoms are cloudy or blurred vision, reduced brightness, contrast and colour, as if looking through a waterfall (hence the reason for the name).

Another common symptom is difficulty in looking at a light, particularly when the cataract reached the central portion of the lens, or the axis of vision.

The only treatment available is the surgical removal of the lens, at the same time replacing it with an intraocular lens. When the patient’s lens is no longer transparent, it does not let light through, causing blurred vision – replacing it is the only solution.

Intraocular lenses are biocompatible prosthesis used as a substitute for the human lens. There are various types available. The patient’s cataract is removed by phacoemulsification, where the cataract is fragmented using ultrasonic energy and the opaque lens is simultaneously aspirated. The patient’s lens is then replaced by an intraocular lens.

The advantage of multifocal intraocular lenses is that they permit visual correction for both far and near sightedness. It is for this reason that 95% of patients that undergo this type of surgery no longer need to use spectacles.

The experience and number of cases at the Hospital Particular do Algarve in the latest generation of multifocal lens replacement have been on the increase. This is because the HPA Health Group provides the best possible technology for the benefit of its patients.

In the opinion of the theatre nurses who specialise in ophthalmic surgery, cataract surgery is perhaps the surgical intervention that results in the highest degree of patient satisfaction. This is mainly due to the excellent results which are immediately achieved. The number of HPA cases has increased in an exceptional way due to various reasons:

■ we have a very well trained and experienced team in this type of intervention that has resulted in this procedure having now become routine;

■ state-of-the-art equipment, such as the microscopes and phacoemulsifiars which result in the percentage of complications being close to zero;

■ the fact that this surgery can be carried out in an out-patient context (admission in the morning and going home the same day) is reassuring for the patient;

■ The post-operative procedure is monitored and the patient given a direct telephone number to contact in case of problems or questions. Some recommendations are repeated, doubts are allayed, and complications are dealt with immediately if they should arise.

We believe that we have all the necessary conditions to improve the quality of life of all those who choose the HPA Health Group for their surgery.

Article submitted by the team of ophthalmologists working at the HPA Health Group.