Clinical Associate Professor Michael Lawless features in this short interview on SMILE at the Asia-Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (APACRS) meeting in Hangzhou, China last month.
This month, Vision Eye Institute’s Chatswood practice turned 20! Its founding partners Dr Chris Rogers (now retired), Clin A/Prof Michael Lawless and Prof Gerard Sutton feature in this mivision article, discussing the biggest changes in ophthalmology over the last 20 years and where the field is headed next.
‘The big question is whether ophthalmologists will become obsolete.’
Dr Chris Rogers
A/Prof Michael Lawless was a member of the winning Asia-Pacific team at the Top Gun Cataract Session at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) 2017 Conference, beating the American home team.
In this short video, Dr Michael Lawless discusses cataracts, when to consider cataract surgery and choosing the most appropriate intraocular lens option.
Dry eye disease (DED) is an insidious and often overlooked/undertreated disease affecting up to a third of adults worldwide. As its name suggests, DED is a condition where there is a less-than-optimal covering of tears across the eyes, either because of insufficient tear production, poor tear quality or increased tear evaporation. There is commonly accompanying inflammation of the surface of the eye. Early diagnosis and initiation of DED treatment may be able to prevent disease progression and the long-term effects that could potentially damage the eye surface and impair vision. Untreated cases may result in pain, corneal ulcers, corneal scars and potentially loss of vision (although this is rare).
DED is commonly confused with other conditions
A challenging part of DED diagnosis is the variability and subjectivity of symptoms, and the vocabulary used by patients to describe symptoms. Consequently, DED is commonly confused with other conditions, in particular allergies. The lack of a definitive diagnostic tool and standard diagnostic pathway presents a further barrier. Eye care professionals may use a combination of tests, such as:
The detrimental effects (physical, mental, financial) of DED are not to be taken lightly. Sufferers may have reduced ability to undertake common everyday tasks (e.g. looking at a computer screen or reading for extended periods) and this may also impair productivity in the workplace. Tolerance to dry environments, such as those with heating/air conditioning, is reduced. Studies indicate that the economic burden on some healthcare systems is similar to that seen with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, severe DED affects patient quality of life (QoL) on a comparable level with severe angina (chest pain related to heart disease).
Findings from a large, international, observational study of patients’ experience with DED and its effect on their QoL were recently published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. This European study, the first of its kind to also examine the effect of pre-diagnosis history, included 706 patients from five countries. All patients had a confirmed diagnosis of dry eye and had been using artificial tears daily for at least six months.
‘I was addicted to eye drops.’2
Luckily, awareness of DED is beginning to gain traction with some help from the Eyelove campaign by pharmaceutical company Shire. Executives from Shire, who recently launched a new DED treatment, heard about well-known actress Jennifer Aniston’s addiction to eye drops from an interview she gave and contacted her. Aniston went to see an ophthalmologist and was subsequently diagnosed with DED. Now she happily shares her story to help others like her.
In summary, if you can’t bear to be parted from your eye drops (whether it be artificial tears or ‘red eye’ drops) or feel like your eyes are burning or itchy, contact your eye care professional for further investigation.
Vision Eye Institute has a number of ophthalmologists who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of DED. Click here for details
Drs Gerard Sutton and Michael Lawless weigh in on the debate over the newer laser refractive technologies, including SMILE, in this mivision article.
Dr Michael Lawless discusses the latest on dry eye disease, including diagnosis and management, in this short video.
Drs Devinder Chauhan, Michael Lawless and Simon Chen were recently interviewed for Mivision’s feature article, The year that was and the year that will be …, in the December 2016 issue.
Selected as some of the profession’s key influencers, Drs Chauhan, Lawless and Chen reflected on what they felt were the standout achievements in ophthalmology in 2016 and what we can look forward to in 2017.
In the latest issue of Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today Europe, its editorial board members (including Dr Michael Lawless) are asked to describe:
‘It is impossible to single out the best piece of equipment. Many excimer lasers, SMILE, the LenSx laser (Alcon), and too many anterior segment imaging systems to count: but they have all helped.’
‘I would buy a VisuMax femtosecond laser to allow me to perform SMILE. In fact, this is exactly what we did nearly 2 years ago. This has prov- en to be a clinical success, and good things always flow from that. Of my patients who are suitable for corneal laser refractive surgery, 60% now undergo SMILE, 30% LASIK, and 10% PRK. Our message is that all three are great procedures, and I select the one that is best for the individual patient.’
By Dr Michael Lawless
Any patient undergoing cataract surgery or laser lens surgery in 2016 has to make a choice, “What sort of intraocular lens will I have inside my eye?” Whenever the natural lens of the eye is removed – whether it be therapeutically for cataract reasons; or whether it be simply to decrease the dependence on glasses in someone who is long-sighted, short-sighted or has co-existing astigmatism – they all have to make this very important decision.
If this is you, the choices can be bewildering, but it really comes down to two separate paths you may wish to take. If you want to be truly free of glasses for all activities, then the way to be most certain of this is to use a trifocal intraocular lens in both eyes, keeping both eyes the same (ie. not attempting to use any type of blended or monovision effect; where one eye is deliberately made different to the other).
If you don’t mind wearing simple reading glasses, then you would normally not bother with a trifocal lens – you would be better off with a lens which is termed ‘aspheric monofocal lens’, which may or may not have astigmatism added into it to try to make both eyes normal.
These lenses give excellent clarity of vision with very good optics, because they are not trying to do too much, but they do mean that if the eyes are set for distance then glasses will be needed for computer work and reading.
If you want to walk down the spectacle independence path, then trifocal intraocular lenses are the way to go.
Surprisingly, one thing they are not is a trifocal lens – that is, they are not three lenses in one. They are, in fact, a lens where the optics have been manipulated to try and give a good range of vision from approximately 30cm out to infinity. For example, they don’t let you see 10cm from your nose.
They are called trifocals because they are an improvement on previous generation multifocals. These previous generation multifocals tended to have an area missing at the intermediate range for computer work, so the vision was pretty good for reading, then dipped for computer work, and came back up again for the distance, whereas trifocals manage to give a good range of vision from reading, computer work, looking at the dashboard on the car and all the way to far distance.
Obviously, things have to be right for this lens to be used. Anatomically the eye needs to be suitable, which means the surface of the eye needs to be healthy and so dry eye is a relative contraindication. The lens needs to be placed in a very secure way without tilting, so if there are conditions which would lead to tilting, then this is not a good option.
Similarly the back of the eye, particularly the macula, needs to be healthy. To get the best from a trifocal lens you need the eye to be able to have the potential to see very well. If none of these anatomical conditions can be fulfilled then you are better off without a trifocal lens and opt for the alternative aspheric monofocal lens.
The thing to remember about a trifocal lens is that it does give a very good range of vision, the best chance of true spectacle independence and it keeps both eyes the same, which is always an advantage.
The disadvantage, and there are always pros and cons of all lenses, is that they do give rings or flare around lights at night. This is not evident during daylight or bright light but only at night or at dusk. If the patient was a professional truck driver I would not use a trifocal intraocular lens, because if they were driving at night these rings around lights would become too annoying. It could still be placed but would generally not be considered a good option for that patient’s lifestyle.
Similarly, if a patient is very particular in terms of clearness of vision or not wanting to have any imperfections in night vision, then I would have to think carefully before using a trifocal lens in that type of patient. It might do well anatomically, but they might focus on the annoying features of the lens rather than the good features, and it may not be the lens for them.
I think people who are very demanding of their visual quality are better off with a lens which maximises the quality of the optics such as the aspheric monofocal lens, and just accepting the fact that they will need reading glasses.
All lenses, but particularly trifocal lenses, where you are attempting to get a patient out of glasses completely, are dependent on the accuracy of the lens selection as well as the quality of the surgery. The accuracy of lens selection can be improved by planning this in a methodical way.
Paying attention to the surface of the eye, making sure it is healthy and there are no subtle tear film problems, and performing the testing with modern equipment in the most accurate way possible. It also requires using latest generation formulae, so the surgeon is able to maximise the chance of getting things exactly on target.
Even so, occasionally there will be some remaining optical error, such as some astigmatism or long/short-sightedness after surgery. If this is significant, there should be a plan to deal with it.
Generally it is done with surface laser to refine the refractive result 2-3 months after the original surgery, or occasionally with a secondary intraocular lens, or an intraocular lens exchange. In certain cases, this is more likely than others, such as a very short or very long eye, or in those patients where they may have had LASIK many years ago.
Trifocal intraocular lenses are a great addition to what is possible for patients in 2016. They have been available in Australia for three years now, and there are three different versions from different manufacturers. They are all good and mostly differ in the platform which is used, but also slightly in the range at which the reading and intermediate is best. This requires a discussion as to what would best suit an individual patient. It is great to have these choices available in 2016.