Royal Academy Artist enjoys benefits of first UK Lensar Vitrectomy

Artist Margaret Sellars is skilled in print-making, and etching in particular. She is currently exhibiting her work at the Royal Academy and London’s Bankside Gallery.

However, the Kingston-based artist had to put her creativity on hold recently when her vision was disrupted, with lines appearing ‘wobbly’ and everything being out of focus. A consultation at Optegra Surrey Eye Hospital revealed that she had a macular hole as well as a cataract, which were both impacting on her vision.

Optegra recommended treatment of both conditions with one procedure, combining LENSAR cataract surgery and vitrectomy. LENSAR is the latest femtosecond laser cataract technology. Margaret was the first patient in the UK to have such advanced combination surgery – cataract and vitro retinal surgery together.

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Steven Harsum, from Optegra Surrey Eye Hospital, performed the procedure. A macular hole is a hole in the very central retina (photographic film of the eye) which can occur suddenly and unpredictably with immediate profound loss of vision. This needs to be repaired quickly to give the best chance of visual recovery.

He said “The femtosecond laser cataract technology allows me to perform safe, reproducible surgery that is laser accurate which is important to ensure the implant is optimally centered. This helps to ensure the best visual outcomes.

“This is particularly important for macular hole surgery, which is repaired by inserting a gas bubble into the eye behind the lens. The gas bubble expands inside the eye rather like an internal bandage. With this gas bubble pushing on the lens it is vital to have the lens well centered and with the correct size support.

“If the support is not exactly right the lens can slip out of position resulting in suboptimal vision. The gas bubble fully dissolves over the subsequent weeks once the hole has closed.”

LENSAR is therefore perfect for these cases, as the capsulorhexis that holds the lens in place is perfectly centered and perfectly sized.

Margaret says her vision is vastly improved now and she has returned to her art, working on a series of etchings themed around industrial cranes.

She says: “The whole procedure was quite amazing really – I did not feel a thing! Of course I was disturbed about my vision as it’s so important to my art. But at first I just thought it was things like my glasses needing to be wiped clean, but then I realized that these wobby lines were not going away. I tried watching television with one eye – and while one eye was perfectly clear, the other was very out of focus. So I booked to go to Optegra and heard all about this new state of the art technology and put myself in their hands.”

Margaret, who is married, was an art teacher before deciding she wanted to spend more time creating her own work. She now spends 2-3 days a week at Artichoke Workshop. She is currently exhibiting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and also the Bankside Gallery, the gallery of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, close to Tate Modern.

Margaret’s prints hover between the recognisably real and the abstract. The starting-points for her work are architectural and industrial structures within the contemporary environment. She concentrates on often-overlooked shapes and details, transferring, re-arranging and changing their scale to discover new and unexpected forms.

Etching is Margaret’s preferred medium, and she works on a fairly large scale, using multiple plates to produce an integrated image of remarkable subtlety and complexity. Her training was in painting and textile design, at Wallasey, Birmingham and Goldsmiths’ College. She has won a number of awards, exhibits widely in London and the UK, and her work is held in public and private collections.

LENSAR technology’s optical imaging system produces a high resolution, 3-D model of the eye, allowing the surgeon to tailor treatment to the individual patient. Optegra is the only UK hospital group to have invested in LENSAR in all its UK hospitals, allowing the specialist eye hospitals to offer the latest cataract treatment.

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