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THE MYOPIA EPIDEMIC

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There is an epidemic of shortsightedness (myopia) which is increasing. 50% of adolescents in the UK are myopic and 97% of South Koreans, and the numbers are increasing! There are probably 200 million myopic people in the world today and in 2020 there will be about 900 million.

Why? The answer is complex, but the more time children spend outdoors, the less likely they are to develop myopia. Outdoor light exposure & less time watching TV, looking at computers, mobile phones and reading may be protective against myopia. Only 12% of Australian adolescents are myopic. But our genes are also important and we pass myopia on to our children. 

How can this epidemic be stopped? In South East Asia (especially China, South Korea & Singapore) this has become a pressing issue because there are increased risks of premature cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular degeneration with myopia. Ian Flitcroft for Mater Hospital in Dublin said "three diopters of myopia is worse for your eyes than 20 cigarettes a day is for your heart." Hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars are spent every year correcting myopia optically (In the USA it is costing about $70 billion a year).  Most of the 50 million people who have had laser eye treatment over the last 20 years were myopic, but treating the condition with lasers isn't the solution, we need to be able to prevent the condition.

How can this epidemic be stopped? Eight years ago Singapore initiated a program of making outdoor activities an essential part of children's days and the rates of myopia have stabilised unlike the trends in neighbouring countries and internationally. But there is no simple solution to this multifactorial problem. Hopefully innovations will result in a preventable solution and in so doing reduce the financial and health burdens of this epidemic. Read more in the Ophthalmologist.

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AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPTHALMOLOGY 2013

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Yes, Bourbon Street was as tacky, noisy & festive as ever! The American Academy accepted my poster presentation. And I was also invited do present the case for the Raindrop inlay to a "Judge, Jury, defending & opposing counsel and a courtroom" of a few hundred surgeon colleagues. It was science with humour. George Waring, the judge, wore a wig of white flowing locks purchased from a novelty store nearby and called the assembly to order frequently. The final verdict was that the technology shows great promise!

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD!

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So where have I been? The clue is in the title; its the biggest conference for Eye Surgeons in the world. All will be revealed in the next few days! I heard great reports about the Visian ICL with Centraflow. Professional cyclist Tom Danielson is very happy with his. A great option for people who are scared of laser eye surgery.

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FLOATERS, LIKE FLIES IN YOUR EYES

Floaters can be really annoying. They are visible bits of the vitreous jelly at the back of the eye. Most of us have small ones which are most visible when looking at the sky or a painted wall i.e. a blank background. But some have them so severely they can appear like a cobweb which blurs vision or a dense ring, wiggly line or an fly near your eye. They aren’t usually significant, but if they are accompanied by flashing lights in peripheral vision it is worth having a retinal membrane check. The floaters may just go away. They can sometimes be treated with a YAG laser but this isn’t always possible or effective. A vitrectomy operation is a more invasive option for which the risks and benefits must be carefully considered.

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But wouldn’t it be great if there was an eyedrop which dissolved the floaters? There is some evidence that Microplasmin injections do dissolve the vitreous jelly, but it hasn’t been shown to reduce floaters, nor is it available as an eyedrop ... yet! So at the moment all we can do is cross our fingers & hope they go away, or have a YAG laser or vitrectomy treatment.

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i-Optics Cassini, like stars in your eyes.

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Another beautiful new instrument on display at the ESCRS conference in Amsterdam was the Cassini i-Optics. It images the cornea using red, green and yellow LEDs which give GPS like coordinates or ‘triangulation’ points on the cornea. This data is used to map corneal elevations and depressions. Other well known methods include placido disc & Scheimflug imaging systems, but Cassini claims theirs maps astigmatism best especially in highly irregular and dry eyes. The corneal light projections looked spectacular, like stars in the night sky.

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LIPIFLOW, A GREAT TREATMENT FOR SCRATCHY, BURNING EYES

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At the world's most progressive eye care conference, the ESCRS in Amsterdam, I tried out a great treatment for gritty eyes. Lipiflow treats dry, scratchy, burning eyes. It looks a bit strange, but it consists of a warming pad which gently massaged my eyes for 12 minutes. It didn't hurt and my eyes feel more comfortable now. And the effect is reported to last 6 to 12 months. 

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London Triathlon success after eye surgery

b2ap3_thumbnail_Keith-W-triathlete-Wevill-px.jpgKeith Whitehead (pictured in glasses before his surgery!) recently completed the olympic distance London Triathlon in just under 3 hours! Keith says: "the main purpose of my eye surgery was to enhance my outdoor life ... it has been a great success. Before the surgery, I completed my first triathlon with an open water swim and this was not a great success because I could see almost nothing. One of my post-surgery targets was to complete another triathlon ... and I did this at the London Triathlon (the biggest in the world) ... the Olympic distance. I was very happy with my time (just under 3 hours) at my age but just as pleased with the fundraising I carried out for sightsavers ... the total is £967.50. Thank you for changing my life and the lives of those that will be helped by Sightsavers."

Well done on an excellent result Keith and for raising money for a good cause! Read more about it.

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JULY 2013 Telescopic contact lenses

b2ap3_thumbnail_Telescopic-Contact-lens-s.jpg          Incredible, what's next? Contact lenses to see into the future???!

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June 2013 Sweden

Sweden Gullstrand Wevill 600 1Alvar Gullstrand, Nobel Prize Laureate, member of the Nobel Physics Committee and one of the fathers of Optics was born in Landskrona, Sweden. And he was honoured by the town as part of their recent 600 anniversary celebrations. I was invited to give 2 presentations as part of the Gullstrand Memorial Lectures meeting and heard some inspiring lectures by colleagues in the fields of intraocular lenses and laser surgery.

Click here to watch the presentation

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May 2013 Healthy body, healthy eyes

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DIABETES: HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY EYES

Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and other well known personalities have diabetes and advocate a healthy lifestyle to prevent the complications of the condition damaging the body and eyes. Looking after your health by being slimmer, watching what you eat, exercising and a lower blood pressure are well known to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. And if you do develop it, the consequences to your body and eyes are also minimised. The ocular complications of diabetes include cataracts, swelling of the retina with bleeding, scarring and retinal detachment. These conditions can be treated by surgery, laser therapy and new drugs. However it has now been shown that the results of these treatments are also better in patients who have looked after their health. So, it’s getting warmer, put on your walking shoes and have a crispy salad with your lunch.

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March 2013 Warsaw

Wevill Warsaw ESCRS 600After my ESCRS Congress presentation in Warsaw, I was able to catch up on new developments, old friends and heard some good talks on cataract surgery. Surgeon colleagues were very  interested in the Raindrop reading implant. I was moved by the Warsaw Uprising memorial during my short, cold tour of the city. For 63 days at the end of WW2 the Polish underground Home Army and the German occupiers battled for control of the city while the Red Army watched from the other side of the Vistula River. Warsaw was bombed and burned, 16000 Polish fighters, 16000 Germans and 150 000 civilians died – what a tragedy.

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FEBRUARY 2013 MOSCOW

2012 Fyodorov Institute 600The Fyodorov Institute in Moscow is named after Professor Svyatoslav Fyodorv, one of the pioneers of refractive surgery (surgery to reduce the need for glasses). I was pleased to be invited to present at the Fyodorov Memorial Lectures, part of The 10th Russian Scientific Practical Conference. The Institute has developed and is well known for many innovations including laser assisted cataract surgery (an exciting new advance today, but started 20 years ago in Russia!), conveyor belt surgery and an eye surgery ship which used to moor off the coast of the UK & other European cities. It was like being invited to play at Wembley!

Watch Mark's Moscow presentation on youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4KlFUAzEm0

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January 2013 India

 

Mark Wevill APAO2013I was privileged to be invited to present scientific papers at the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Conference in Hyderabad. Nine thousand surgeons attended the conference in this fascinating city!  It was my first visit to India and a great experience. The conference was very interesting, with interesting new techniques and technologies. And the country and culture were vibrant and colorful.

The Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress programme.

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November 2012 Yanoff & Duker textbook

Yanoff Duker Wevill cataractHave finished updating my chapter on "The epidemiology, pathophysiology, causes, morphology and visual effects of cataracts" (what a mouthful!) for the 4th edition of the 1500 page Yanoff & Duker reference textbook used by eye surgeons around the world. Over 250 other authors were invited to contribute. Thankfully the days of one author writing an entire reference text are over! Click here to read the Chapter: Yanoff & Duker: Cataracts by Mark Wevill.

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October 2012 Dubrovnik

Croatian cataract refractive surgery 600I was thankful for the invitation to speak at the Croatian Ophthalmological Society meeting in Dubrovnik just as the winter was starting to arrive in the UK. Sunset over the harbor was a beautiful setting for a good conference.

Read more: Dubrovnik 2012

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September 2012 New Finevision trifocal lens

b2ap3_thumbnail_FineVision-s.jpgI am very impressed with the Finevision trifocal lens implants. They are such an improvement on older multifocal intraocular lenses. The Finevision lenses are living up to their name (Far, INtermediate and NEar vision) and are enabling my patients to drive, work at a computer and see their phones. 

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April 2012 - Uganda

Uganda teaching 600Over 1000 patients were seen by five doctors, five nurses and ten other volunteers from the UK in 5 days. I was also invited to teach surgeons and nurses at Mengo and Kagiso Hospitals. Thanks to Optegra and Lenstec for their generous donations of lenses, equipment, instruments and medicines. I was impressed by the commitment of Kagiso staff and how many patients are treated with few resources. The eye drop manufacturing unit which uses recycled medicine ampules for eye drop bottles was an eye opener!

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