Quality lenses for your cataract patients

When advising patients who need cataract surgery, it is important to consider Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO), says optometrist and Head of Clinical Proposition at Newmedica, Jag Singh

‘PCO is caused by proliferation and inappropriate accumulation of lens epithelial cells (LECs) on the surfaces of intraocular lenses and the posterior lens capsule, leading to reduced visual acuity. This can happen after cataract lens surgery. Risk factors to the accumulation of LECs include conditions such as diabetes or previous eye inflammation, and age. The key factors that can help to reduce the likelihood of PCO include the health of the eye, quality of surgery carried out and the type of lens used. YAG laser is normally used to correct the issue.

‘Newmedica, an independent ophthalmology provider, minimise these risk factors through a combination of exceptional clinical standards and by using a high quality monofocal lens as standard for all NHS patients. This is at no additional cost to the NHS. This lens is designed to reduce the risk of PCO, using a hydrophobic material and a proprietary edge design to slow the growth of LECs. A study by the Royal College of Ophthalmology (RCO) in 2021 showed that at three years, the overall PCO YAG treatment rate for Monofocal Single Piece IOLs was 7.4%, while the monofocal lens used by Newmedica has a rate of just 2.8%.

‘The report also found a clear distinction between hydrophobic and hydrophilic intraocular lenses and that the associated PCO YAG treatment rate for hydrophilic IOLs at three years was 14.9% - which was greater than five times higher than the associated rate for hydrophobic lenses.

‘To put these figures into context, it means over 46k YAG treatments have been avoided since Newmedica introduced the lens in 2017, saving the NHS over £4.5m. This number is predicted to rise to over 168k YAG procedures and over £16m by 2029, based on the volume of patients treated to date with the lens. This is clearly better for patients, and for the NHS as it eases financial and capacity pressures.’

Supporting patient choice

Jag also talks about the patient journey from community optometrists to cataract surgery, and how Newmedica works closely with optometrists to deliver patient care.

‘As an optometrist, you are likely to have been seeing a patient for years for sight tests before spotting an eye condition like cataracts. It may be that you’ll monitor that cataract for a number of months or even years before making the recommendation that the patient has it treated. That’s normally because the cataract is starting to have a growing impact on the patient’s ability to do the things they love or need to do.

‘At that point, you have the conversation with the patient about cataract surgery, explaining the risks and benefits. Ultimately, it’s the patient’s choice whether they go ahead or not. If they decide to go ahead the optometrist needs to explain that the patient has a choice of where they have their treatment, which can be from an NHS hospital or an independent provider like Newmedica. They may also choose to go privately because they want a specific type of lens, for which Newmedica caters. Our research shows that most patients will look to their optometrist for advice and will value their recommendation.

There are a number of factors that set Newmedica apart from other providers. The monofocal lens we use for NHS patients, as we’ve already been discussing, is a key one. We do that because we know it’s the right thing for patients as it provides the best clinical outcomes. We also know patients are anxious before treatment, and it’s important for them to feel relaxed for themselves and to ease surgery. Which is why we offer to hold their hand during surgery, introducing them to their surgeon on the day of their surgery and even choose the music being playing in theatre if they want. They’re just a few of the reasons why 99% of our patients would recommend Newmedica to their friends and family.

‘Plus, because Newmedica sites are locally owned and led by our consultants, it’s very much a partnership approach. It means local community optometrists have a professional relationship with those ophthalmologists and can put a face to the name. If they have questions, they can run them past one of the consultant partners. That’s a more effective way of working for both optometrists and patients – it’s a real partnership in patient care.

‘Depending on locally commissioned cataract services, the patient will return to the optometry practice from which they were referred, usually four weeks later to ensure the surgery has been a success. If there are no complications, a refraction assessment should be done to assess their vision and whether they need a new pair of glasses for example.

‘The patient may be referred for cataract surgery on the second eye, if needed, usually at the same ophthalmology provider where their first eye was treated. If a service isn't commissioned locally, then Newmedica will see that patient for their post-operative care.

For more information about how to refer patients to Newmedica, go to;

https://www.newmedica.co.uk/health-professionals/how-to-refer.

Alcon Proud Partner of UK RCOphth National Ophthalmology Database; Data Highlights Benefits of Specific AcrySof Models | Alcon.com  

By reducing the need for additional treatment, the NHS is able to save money and allow them to reallocate capacity and budget to support other pressures.

Getting referred to Newmedica

If you think you have an eye condition, you should see your optician or GP for a detailed assessment. They’ll go through all the options available and tell you where you can have your treatment.

The referral process will differ slightly depending on whether you want to be an NHS or private patient. You’ll find all the information you need on our NHS and private patient pages.

Are you a health care professional?
Find out how to refer a patient.

NHS patients

Learn more about our NHS services
and how you can be referred.

Read more

Private patients

Find details about our private
options and how to get started.

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Self-referring? Call 0800 4096 792

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