Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Five-Minute 'Cure' for Eyes; A Pioneering Operation Using Radio Waves Could Banish Long Sight for Ever

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Five-Minute 'Cure' for Eyes; A Pioneering Operation Using Radio Waves Could Banish Long Sight for Ever

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY JORY

RITA Thomas's eyes have made medical history. For the longsighted 47-year-old GP practice nurse is the first person in Britain to have undergone a revolutionary operation which has given her perfect vision. The fiveminute procedure, which was developed in the States, uses radio waves to reshape the cornea and is available in London from this week.

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK), which costs up to u1,500, is a gentler, more subtle technique than laser eye surgery. It was developed for long sight and uses the gentle heat of radio waves to contract the collagen fibres in the eye - reshaping the eye without destroying tissue.

For Rita, who before the operation could not read without her glasses, being a medical guinea pig was daunting: "As I lay on the operating table waiting for the radio-wave machine to start I was terrified, but the thought of better eyesight kept me going.

It was over in minutes and completely painless. All I felt was a sensation where the tip of the device touched my right eye.

"Afterwards I sat up and had a cup of tea. I was amazed at the results.

Straight away my eyesight had improved and I could read print that I needed glasses to focus on minutes before. I used to have a pair for watching TV and for driving and another for reading - and I was always losing them. I've been wearing glasses since my twenties and it's such a relief not having to wear them."

Anaesthetic drops numb the surface of the eye and ensure the procedure is painless. Then, through a tiny probe thinner than a human hair, radio waves are emitted. The tip of the probe is placed in a ring of spots around the edge of the cornea, emitting tightly focused radio waves at specific points on the surface of the eye. The number of points can range from eight to 32 depending on the severity of long-sightedness.

The heat causes tightening of collagen in a ring around the edge of the cornea, making it steeper, rather like a belt being shortened by a couple of notches.

This allows the patient to focus more clearly on nearby objects. It is not known whether the eye will hold its new shape indefinitely, but it is thought that the technique can be repeated a few years later. …

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