US class action over cataract eye operations

London: A group of elderly people left fighting for their sight following failed cataract surgery is taking leading American lens companies to court in a bid to win millions in compensation.

OAPS from across the UK suffered years of misery after major problems with the lenses used in operations to clear their cataracts.

Within months of their original surgery victims like Joan Steel, 78, from Morecambe, Lancashire, and Thomas Allcott, 70, of Tamworth in the West Midlands were struggling to see again.

And many of the elderly men and women were forced to go through second operations in a desperate bid to improve their vision.

Some even suffered further eye conditions caused by the trauma of trying to rectify their sight.

More than 300,000 cataract operations are carried out in the UK every year.

Bad packaging is thought to have contaminated lenses used in their surgery

Legal firm Birchall Blackburn represent 179 people worldwide who are taking on the American lens manufacturers in a bid to win compensation.

Eight elderly people in Britain – including Mrs Steel and Mr Allcott – face a court showdown with one specific Florida-based company, Medical Development Research, who supplied lens type SC60B-OUV which was used in their failed surgery.

But the numbers both globally and in the UK are rising all the time as more people become aware what has caused the problems with their sight.

Up to 50,000 people could have been affected by the alleged contaminated lenses worldwide. In Britain the figure could be as high as 2,400 people.

Mr Allcott, a jeweller for 50 years in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter said: “Trying to sort out my sight has taken four years of my life – but even now my vision is not the same.

“The operation on my left eye was simple enough but within months of the lens going in my vision was cloudy.

“Initially I was told my vision wouldn’t get any worse, but that was no good to me. As a jeweller I need my sight.

“I had a second operation to improve my sight which involved making an incision and replacing the lens and there was always the chance it could go wrong.

“Fortunately it went well – but I still had to spend the next two years with stitches in my eyes which was frustrating.

“I have also developed another condition which I believe is down to the surgery I have had on my eye and as a result the vision in my left eye is slightly bent.”

Mrs Steel underwent her first eye operation in 1998 and was soon suffering from cloudy vision.

Despite under going corrective laser surgery and a second operation the grandmother of two has been left with poor vision. One eye is still too painful to touch.

“I expected my vision to be improved,” she said. “Instead I have been through years of problems.

“I need help getting around now and I have hurt my legs from falling over repeatedly.”

Mr Allcott added: “I decided to fight for compensation because the last few years have been very tough.”

Duncan Stackhouse of Birchall Blackburn, said: “We still really don’t have any idea how many people have been affected by these defective lenses – the clients we are representing could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Taking on the manufacturer through the American courts is a brave step for them to take.

“All our clients are at the stage in their lives when they should be relaxing and enjoying themselves – unfortunately, because of what has happened, they have not been able to do that.

“They should not have to sweep their suffering under the carpet and struggle on – they have every right to fight for some recompense.”

New solution for Dry Eye Syndrome

London: Clarymist is the first product of its kind to offer fast, effective relief from Dry Eye Syndrome, a rapidly increasing problem. Current options are messy and inconvenient – but now with this great new treatment – one quick spray with Clarymist gives instant relief.

Dry Eye Syndrome is one of the most commonly treated eye conditions in the world and is now one of the most frequent patient complaints to UK ophthalmic opticians. Many factors contribute to dry eyes (wearing contact lenses, central heating, drinking alcohol, watching TV or working at your computer). Put simply, the main cause of Dry Eye Syndrome is a disturbance of the lipid layer in the eye which covers the actual tear film. This oily layer stops the tears evaporating. One of the main reasons the oily layer gets disturbed is because we don’t blink frequently enough. Also as we get older the problem affects more and more of us.

Blinking usually occurs about 20 times a minute but studies show that when working at a computer, for instance, blinking drops to about 5 times a minute… and those playing computer games sometimes only blink once or twice in 3 minutes!

But now relief is at hand and dry, gritty, sore eyes can be a thing of the past with new, revolutionary Clarymist – a single spray on to your closed eyelid – much easier and more pleasant to apply than traditional and messy eye drops or gels – which will result in an immediate cooling and soothing sensation. After a few minutes the phospholipid liposomes get to work and the dryness is eased away. Having no direct contact with the eye, there is no blurring or impairing of vision, so it is safe to use before driving or operating machinery.

Clarymist eye spray is the ideal product for anyone who suffers from Dry Eye Syndrome and contact lens wearers can safely apply the product while wearing all types of lenses. What’s more, the handily sized small bottle is highly cost-effective, providing over 100-metered doses. Just keep a bottle in your pocket, handbag or desk drawer for instant relief any time you feel your eyes getting sore and gritty. Also Clarymist has an amazing 3-year use-up date which means no more wasted bottles of drops.

Clarymist is available in the UK from larger Tesco stores, high street opticians, pharmacies and independent health stores or online from

Eye facts – did you know that?

• About 10 % of thepopulation experience varying degrees of Dry Eye Syndrome
• Dry Eye Syndrome affects one in five people over the age of 55**
• Dry Eye Syndrome affects 75% of people over the age of 65
• The use of Clarymist improves the discomfort of 85% of patients***
• A third of the population regularly puts up with dry, irritated and watery eyes*
• 75% of soft contact lens users get Dry Eye Syndrome
• Dry Eye Syndrome can be caused by a variety of lifestyle factors including central heating, air conditioning, air pollution, dry climates, wind, saunas, spicy foods, alcohol, contact lenses and activities such as driving, watching TV, computers and reading**
• Dry eye is a confirmed side effect of laser eye surgery**
• The typical symptoms include dryness, grittiness, irritation, difficulty reading for long periods, burning and even tearing or watering
• Computer users tend to blink much less frequently (about 5 times a minute as opposed to the normal rate of 20 times a minute) making dry eyes a major problem for them
• British people spend 128,780 hours per working lifetime sitting in front of a TV or computer screen*
• The average person spends 30.5 hours a week sitting in front of the TV*
• The typical working person spends 35 hours a week sitting in front of their computer screen*
• If the average individual works between the ages of 18 and 65, 2740 hours or three and a half months a year will be spent in front of a screen*
• If left untreated, Dry Eye Syndrome can damage the outer protective tissue of the cornea which can lead to permanent scarring and sight loss**

* National Eye Week, 2005
** The Eyecare Trust
*** A new therapy concept with a liposome eye spray for the treatment of “dry eye”; Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd, 2004; 221:1-12



Most of us experience dry eye at some time. Dry eye makes itself felt as a sensation of burning or dryness. Your eyes feel tired, sometimes you get a gritty feeling, and often you are over-sensitive to bright light. Most of you will recognise the symptoms.

What causes dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome has become increasingly common in everyday life, due to environmental factors and increased use of computers. It also becomes common as we get older, especially for women. Other causes are through disease (diabetes, blepharitis) and also certain drugs can induce its onset. It is particularly frequent if you wear contact lenses or work in an air conditioned office building. The pollution that occurs in towns, long car and plane journeys, caffeine consumption and smoking all contribute too, and you’ll also be susceptible if you have undergone laser eye surgery.

Its effect on the eye

Your eye is protected and lubricated by a thin film of tears. Also there are glands on your eyelids that put an oily layer over the top of the tear film to stop it evaporating. In about 80% of dry eye cases, this oily film is deficient, allowing the protective tear layer to evaporate and irritation to occur

How Clarymist Works

1) Clarymist eye spray is sprayed onto the outside of the eyelids, resulting in a soothing, cooling effect right across the eye
2) Some of the Clarymist eye spray liquid penetrates around the eyelids and onto the tear film that coats the eye
3) The lipid (oily) component from Clarymist eye spray spreads across the outer surface of the tear film, reinforcing the natural oils that are already present
4) The rate of evaporation of the tear film is now significantly reduced, allowing it to provide proper lubrication to the eye
5) The symptoms of dry eye quickly diminish


Soy lecithin 1.0% A phospholipid, a polar molecule consisting of a fatty acid component that is lipid-soluble, along with a charged phosphate group that is water-soluble. Phosphatidylcholine is the main lipid component of soy lecithin (94%), and also the most common phospholipid in natural tears. It is present in Clarymist eye spray in the form of liposomes. Sodium chloride 0.8% Present in natural tears. Renders the aqueous content of Clarymist eye spray compatible with the user’s tears. Ethanol 0.8% A solvent to maintain the less water-soluble ingredients in the aqueous carrier. Vitamin A palmitate 0.025% A lipid-soluble antioxidant component that is also closely associated with eye health Vitamin E (tocopherol) 0.002% A powerful antioxidant vitamin which is lipid-soluble and can therefore aid protection and stabilisation of lipids. Phenoxyethanol 0.5% A preservative commonly selected for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics due to its effectiveness in very low concentrations and its low allergic reaction. Being volatile it evaporates from the aerosol state and does not impact on the user, so it can be safely used with contact lenses

Bright vegetables protect eyes from ageing

New York: Brightly coloured vegetables are good for the sight and may even help fight eyesight degeneration caused by ageing.

Scientists at the University of Winconsin have found that brightly-coloured yellow and green vegetables contain chemicals which can help protect the eyes against damage in later life.

Eating lots of vegetables such as peas, broccoli, squash and sweetcorn before the age of 75 meant lower rates of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the phrase used for the deteriation that occurs with ageing.

The study looked at 1,700 women between 50 and 79. It found that those under 75 were less likely to develop AMD if over the previous 15 years they consistently ate lots of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin – found in leafy green vegetables, sweetcorn, squash, broccoli and peas.

Although the scientists said more research is needed they believe the substance in these vegetables act by protecting against blue light, which can damage the area around retina It might also help prevent the condition by making the eye healthier and more immune to stresses by strengthening eye membranes and mopping up harmful molecules.

There is currently no cure for AMD and but its progress can be slowed by a healthier lifestyle.

UK government cracks down on cowboy cosmetic clinics

London: The UK government’s watchdog, The Health Commission is to target unregulated cosmetic surgery clinics.

Unregistered clinics may face prosecution or closure because of the danger they pose to the public. The commission receives around 50 complaints each year from patients whose treatments have gone wrong. These include bothed treatments using lasers to remove hair, blemishes and tatooes.

The clinics are to be targeted by undercover inspectors, posing as clients. All clinics and operators offering aesthetics must be registered by the Health Commission and patients are advised to ask to see their registration certificate before embarking or paying for treatment.

Omega-6 fatty acids may cause dry eyes

London: Women who consume a greater amount of omega-6 fatty acids have an increased incidence of dry eye syndrome while women consuming greater amounts of omega-3s have a reduced risk of this condition, a new study has found.

Researchers studied 32,470 female health professionals aged 45-84 years who participated in the Women’s Health Study. The study authors determined the women’s fatty acid intakes by using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. They assessed the incidence of dry eye syndrome in the patients by having the subjects report if they had developed a clinically diagnosed case. Of the study sample, 1,546 (4.7 percent) reported dry eye syndrome.

After adjustment for demographic factors, hormone therapy, and total fat intake, a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid consumption was associated with a significantly increased risk of dry eye syndrome. Subjects who ate the most omega-3s, however, had a lower risk of dry eye syndrome. The researchers found a 17 percent reduced risk of dry eye syndrome for women consuming the most omega-3s compared to women consuming the least.

According to the researchers, “These results suggest that a higher dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a decreased incidence of dry eye syndrome in women.”

Lead in water pipes may cause cataracts, say US scientists

Lead in drinking water pipes could increase the risk of cataracts, it has emerged.
Researchers claim a build-up of lead in the body over the years from older plumbing systems could help trigger the eye disorder.

U.S. scientists working on the Normative Ageing Study in Boston checked lead levels in 795 men with an average age of 69. Cataracts were found in 122 of them.

They discovered that men in the top fifth of the lead level range were almost three times more likely to have a cataract than those in the bottom fifth.

The team, who published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said: ‘Results suggest that cumulative lead exposure is a risk factor for cataracts. Reduction of lead exposure could help decrease the global burden of cataracts.’

Cataracts cause the eye lens to cloud over, leading to impaired vision or even blindness. Threequarters of people aged over 85 have a cataract bad enough to affect their sight, with women more likely to be affected than men.

Anita Lightstone, head of eye health at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said: ‘We would not wish people to be unduly alarmed as in a large number of cases cataracts can be removed with an operation and good vision can be restored.’

Another American study – published yesterday in the Journal of Nutrition – suggests eating dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, can help prevent cataracts.

Bates eye training

Bates eye training

Exercises are used to stimulate the eye muscles without the use of glasses or surgery. The treatment is based on the premise that eye sight problems are caused by misuse and can be corrected through exercises and relaxation. Helpful to anyone whose eyesight is failing, other than that caused by disease.

Available at natural health clinics and Bates Association. There is also a book: Better Eyesight Without Glasses.


Eyelid surgery is known as “upper” or “lower blepharoplasty”. This is one of the most popular cosmetic operations as the skin around the eyes is thinner than on the rest of the face and is usually the first to show signs of ageing. On the upper-eyelid the skin can stetch which can lead to a hooded effect and even – in extreme cases – loss of peripheral vision.

The other problem is bags under the eyes, which are created by an accumulation of fatty tissue underneath, together with a loss of elasticiy in the skin. Some people are affected by both bags and sagging upper eyelids, others by just one or the other. Sometimes bags under the eyes are hereditary rather than a sign of aging, in which case a corrective operation can be performed on someone in their twenties.

The operation:

In the case of the upper lid the excess skin can be trimmed and removed and stitched back in place in what is a reasonably straightforward operation. It can be performed under general or local anaesthetic. Luckily the scar can be created in the crease and is therefore undetectable afterwards. The operation can also be carried out from inside the eyelid. Bags under the eyes can be treated at the same time. With the lower lid, the fat is removed through an incision made close to the lash line and he skin is lifted and stitched back into place. Surgery lasts about one hour and can be done under a local or general anaesthetic.

Stitches are removed from three to five days. The bruising and swelling lasts for seven to 10 days, and the eyes may be watery. The patient’s appearance is back to normal after 15 to 30 days. Eye make-up can be worn by week two, and contact lenses by week three. The scars are minimal, and after two or three months become practically invisible, hidden just beneath the lash lines on lower eyelids and in the natural crease on the upper lids. With lower lids, some surgeons make the incision from inside the lid so there is no visible scarring at all.

These operations are fairly simple, and predictable in their outcome. However, they will not remove the shadows under the eyes, or the crow’s feet wrinkles at the side of the eyes. It will also only remove the wrinkles that are within the skin that is removed. Laser surgery which can be done at the same time can remove other wrinkles. Otherwise a face-lift may be more suitable.

There is no limit to the age at which you can have a blepharoplasty, and many surgeons work on patients in their seventies or older, especially in cases where drooping eyelids leads to problems with vision. Healing is slower in the older patient and could take up to a month.