Precious Gift Is In Sight For More

Mohammed-Muhtaseb-FRCOphth

Report from South Wales Evening Post, January 2nd 2008. Photo used by kind permission

Precious Gift Is In Sight For More

The gift of sight is something many of us take for granted. But when your life is all a blur, without wearing a pair of spectacles it’s an entirely different story – as Fforestfach – based Lynda Wiberge knows only too well.

Since she was just a 14 year old schoolgirl, she has had to look at the world through glasses. But she was so determined to live without them that when she saw an advert for laser surgery, she went across the Severn Bridge for treatment – but it went wrong.

For years she has suffered blurred vision. But now she, along with a number of other Swansea patients, is being given fresh hope of a brighter future thanks to the pioneering work of Singleton Hospital based eye expert Mohammed Muhtaseb.  Miss Wiberge, aged 53, said she thought corneal scarring would be removed from her eye as part of laser surgery. But just minutes after the procedure, at the day surgery unit opposite Singleton Hospital, she said she was amazed by it’s effects.

She said: “It’s absolutely wonderful”. “I could’nt see without my glasses because it was all blurred, but now I can read without my glasses. I am shocked because I thought I was having the scarring taken off. I thought I would have to go back to glasses – but now I’m ecstatic.”
“Mr Muhtaseb’s wonderful – it is’nt even stinging.”

She added: “I only had laser treatment so I would not wear glassed and because I had hazy vision – I hated glasses.” Mr Muhtaseb said he hoped the work would help Singleton Hospital become the regional centre for laser procedures of this kind.

Since the consultant opthalmic and cornea surgeon started at the Swansea site back in 2006, patients have been offered highly specialist treatment when laser vision correction was unsuitable. He is one of a handful of UK specialists trained in cornea and refractive surgery.

Mr Muhtaseb, who has trained in the UK and abroad, is developing a new service for the treatment of corneal diseases in Mid and West Wales. Only one lens implantation is being carried out each month. But now he is looking to transform the laser side of the service and prove it’s worth by showing the dramatic improvement that it can make to the transformation of his patient’s sight. Mr Muhtaseb said he and his team were making the most of the resources given to them.

He said: “Swansea Local Health Board said one patient could have treatment, because without it he could have lost his job.
“But because the laser company has a minimum callout fee, they were going to have to pay the minimum charge, so we got another two in. “Hopefully the LHB will consider the case in particular in the funding of laser treatment for corneal scarring.”

Currently a £250.000 Wavelight Allegretto Excimer laser – considered to be the Rolls Royce of such equipment – has to be hired out to the city hospital to do such work. But it is hoped in time there could be such a laser on site, which would also generate income for the trust through Mr Muhtaseb’s private work – helping place Swansea at the forefront of such work. He said: “If local health boards are willing to fund the treatment, it will make the case strongly for Swansea NHS Trust to buy a laser. “Most of the income would be generated from my private practice, and if other LHB’s fund the work that is coming through. “We are trying to get this and put Swansea on the map – I think it’s good all round.”

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