Multifocal intraocular lenses: a happy ending to cataracts

Cataracts are a major public health problem and account for 51% of associated blindness. The solution is exclusively surgical. The techniques associated to this surgical intervention have had an extraordinary development in recent years. The treatment involves the removal of the cataract and the placing of a multifocal intraocular lens which corrects both short and longsighted 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 refractive correction. In addition to a quantitative loss of vision, the patient may have qualitative loss as well.

The symptoms are cloudy or blurred vision, such as looking through a waterfall (hence the reason for the name), but also a decrease in brightness, contrast and colour. 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 surgical removal of the lens, replacing it with an intraocular lens. As the patient’s lens is no longer transparent, it does not let light through and is the cause of the 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.

At Hospital Particular do Algarve, experience in the latest generation of multifocal lens replacement has been on the increase. The HPA Health Group makes the best possible technology available 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 due its immediate and excellent results.

The number of surgeries at HPA has increased in an exceptional way due to various reasons: we have a very well trained team in this type of intervention, which has resulted in this procedure having now become routine, and state-of-the-art equipment such as the microscopes and phacoemulsifiers, 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 (the patient is admitted for surgery in the morning and discharged the same day) is more reassuring for patients.

Additionally, we have implemented a specific procedure for monitoring patients postoperatively, which has resulted in greater satisfaction. The nurse who assisted during surgery personally phones the patient 24 hours after surgery and again a week later.

With this approach we have the opportunity to monitor the whole post-operative procedure, to repeat some recommendations, allay doubts, prevent complications when they arise and leave our direct contact number in case of problems or questions.

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

This procedure is carried out by ophthalmologists at the Hospital Particular do Algarve.