An 81-year-old woman with poor vision due advanced macular degeneration has become the first Australian patient to be fitted with a small, telescopic lens implant at Epworth Freemasons.
Ojaimi said the patient, Mrs Theresa Cowell, had seen a deterioration in her quality-of-life due to macular degeneration. She had advanced disease in both eyes and experienced poor vision for about 10 years.
“People with end stage macular degeneration have loss of central vision, which affects their ability to read, drive and recognise faces. It severely limits their day-to-day activities.”
Cowell was required to meet strict criteria to be eligible for the surgery to fit a Galilean telescope into one of her eyes. The telescopic lens in the eye provides 2.7 magnification.
Ojaimi said key to the surgery was a ZEISS microscope at Epworth Freemasons – part of Victoria’s largest not-for-profit private hospital group.
“The high quality of the imaging through the microscope assisted with this challenging operation. The large size of the telescope inserted into the eye means the surgery was technically difficult and the functions in the microscope were critical to appropriately position the device,” he said.
Post-operatively, Cowell required months of rehabilitation to train her how to use the telescope lens. While it doesn’t restore vision, the device has given her more freedom.
“The telescopic lens in the eye doesn’t restore the vision, but after extensive rehabilitation and training to use the lens, the magnification has helped the patient recognise faces and read words printed in large font,” Ojaimi said.
“Mrs Cowell has also resumed riding her mobility scooter, which means she can catch up with friends and socialise. Younger patients may have a better outcome, as there is a lot of hard work after the surgery in the rehabilitation process, which requires a lot of perseverance by the patient.”