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Meet The Experts – Shafiq Rehman

10 May 2021

Please give an overview of your role within Optegra?

I am an ambassador consultant eye surgeon. I specialise exclusively in providing the very best level of care to patients who are considering vision correction treatments – principally laser eye surgery such as LASIK and SMILE, Implantable Contact Lenses, Cataract and Lens Replacement surgeries.

What first attracted you to ophthalmology?

The sheer success of the treatments that were available.  Even way back in 1994 when I performed my first eye operation, the treatments had an incredibly high success rate and patients were often delighted with the results.

Fast forward a quarter of a century and my well over 15,000 surgeries – the results are even more spectacular for the vast majority of people that I treat.

 

What brings you joy in your work?

Seeing patients after their treatments, the many different ways that people’s lives can be changed for the better is always deeply rewarding.

 

What are the most common questions that patients ask you about the Refractive Lens Exchange procedure?

Does it hurt? The answer is ‘no’.  Most people will report some slight pressure sensation and the feeling of water running over the eye but very few ever report any pain during the surgery.

How do we keep your head still during the surgery?  We don’t – your head is resting in a specially designed headrest that will help to keep your head relaxed and still during the procedure.

How do you keep my eyes still during the operation?  Again, we don’t!  Your eye will be quite free to move but we ask you to look at a couple of bright pinpoint light sources from the microscope.  This will help to keep your eye in a pretty still position. Experienced surgeons are also very adept at handling minor eye movements during the surgery.

What’s my vision like afterwards? It is always cloudy/foggy to start with and this is very normal for the first 12 hours or so, after which vision starts clearing pretty quickly.  Many people can see well even on day 1 post op, but more typically the higher levels of vision start coming in around day 3-4 post op.

Do you have to pop my eyeball onto my cheek to do the operation?  No, this is an urban myth if ever there was one.  I can reassure you that your eye stays firmly ensconced in your orbit during surgery!

 

What are the main motivators for people choosing to have Refractive Lens Exchange?

There are many reasons, including:

  • Fed up with the ‘faff’ of using glasses all the time
  • Want to wake up and go in the morning without having to worry about glasses
  • Want to feel younger again
  • Don’t want to feel vulnerable without their glasses
  • For many RLE patients their vision may have been pretty good until their mid-forties when it all goes downhill – mainly due to the ageing changes in the natural lens.
  • Want to get on with outdoor activities, exercise, swimming etc
  • Want to feel more confidence in themselves

 

How does RLE work?

We replace the hardening natural lens with an advanced technology lens implant – such as Multifocal, Toric or a combination to provide the chance of a life largely free from glasses on a long-term basis.

A great advantage is that you will never go on to get cataract later in life, as the natural lens has been replaced with an artificial one.

 

How quick is recovery time?

Much of the vision recovery takes place a few days post op, while smaller, gradual vision improvements can still continue for a few weeks afterwards. The eye is typically comfortable very early on.

 

How long does the treatment last?

The lens implants are designed to last a lifetime and most people’s eyesight is stable once the initial settlement period is over.

 

What are the success rates?

Over 85% of eyes can achieve a vision standard of 20/20 without glasses for distance, with both eyes working simultaneously this figure rises to around 95% percent.

A small proportion of patients may require a fine-tuning procedure which is often done with LASIK or LASEK laser vision correction treatment.  If required, this is usually offered at around the 3–6 month post op stage to allow for full refractive (optical) settlement.

 

Which age-group is RLE most suitable for?

 We find many patients above age 50 are potential candidates for RLE – most of our patients undergoing RLE are in their mid-fifties, although a small proportion could consider RLE even into their early forties if the prescription levels are very high and where alternative treatments cannot be considered.

 

Greatest achievement/proudest moment of your career?

Setting up the vision correction service at Optegra Yorkshire was one of my proudest achievements. From a standing start myself and my team helped build a fully comprehensive vision correction service covering the most advanced forms of laser vision correction, lens replacement and ICL surgeries back in 2006.

 

Most challenging moment in your career?

My most challenging moment was an NHS emergency when I dealt with serious accidental eye injuries in two young children on the same night, Christmas Eve 2010.  Myself and my NHS team were up all night operating on corneal lacerations arising from a pet cat and a coat hanger!  Thankfully both children did very well but it was a night to remember!

 

Your top piece of advice around eye health and protecting vision?

Wear protective eye wear when playing fast racquet sports – especially badminton and squash!

 

What has the pandemic/lockdown taught you?

It will pass – one day.

 

Your perfect holiday?

Sharing a Mediterranean villa with my family, close to a beach so I can go for a quiet morning swim in the sea before anyone else gets up.

 

Any unusual or interesting hobby?

I’m a bit of a cosmology geek, I take an interest in trying to understand some of the deeper truths of our existence.

 

Any unusual or quirky recipe you cook/cocktail you make?

Honestly I’m a terrible cook, but my favourite cocktail is a Negroni – love the smoky smooth taste of it!

Shafiq Rehman – Ambassador Consultant Eye Surgeon, Optegra Eye Hospital
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