Eyesight of elderly Plymouth woman cured by NASA scientists
A RETIRED classroom assistant from Plymouth is no longer blind in one eye after undergoing a revolutionary, NASA-inspired private procedure in London.
81-year-old Irene Da Silva, who lives in Hooe with her husband, suffered from a progressive eye condition known as age-related macular degeneration for more than four years, and her eyesight slowly deteriorated during that time.
While the condition is considered the most common cause of blindness in over 55s in the developed world, dated and somewhat lengthy procedures - coupled with high-risk complications - have discouraged both patients and even the most modern eye surgeons from treating it in the past – until now.
Earlier this year, Irene noticed an advert in a health magazine regarding radical new treatment that combined NASA technology with the expert medical knowledge of staff at the Harley Street-based London Eye Hospital.
"When I was first diagnosed with AMD, I didn't fully understand the consequences," Irene said. "When I found out that it was a progressive condition and couldn't be cured, I was incredibly upset.
"I couldn't see faces anymore, or bus numbers, so I couldn't travel alone to even go shopping or meet friends for coffee. My husband even had to read my post to me.
"But we saw this article about treatment in London and I was really impressed by it. I spoke to my family and friends who encouraged me to contact the hospital, so I arranged a consultation."
Designed by Bobby Qureshi and Pablo Artal, the two joined forced and managed to implement technology that was first used to fix the Hubble Telescope into a lens, limiting the surgical risks, known as an iolAMD lens.
The lens, which was injected into Irene's right eye, acts like a telescope, gently magnifying the image entering the eye and diverting it to a healthier part of the retina.
While the 15 minute procedure cost Irene more than £10,000, she said the return of her sight – and ability to clearly distinguish faces once again – was worth every penny.
"It cost a terrible amount of money for what is in fact a very simple and straightforward process," she admitted.
"But, now that I can see again, it's absolutely marvellous. I can't even begin to describe what this is like – there is just so much colour and so much detail to what I can see now, I'm just amazed by it.
"The reason I wanted to share my story was so that other people who suffer from AMD can know there are solutions. There is a treatment, and it will cure your condition."