Chris Illingworth has a particular interest in lens and corneal surgery. This includes cataract surgery, refractive surgery and corneal transplantation. He provides treatments that are personalised to the individual, taking into account needs for work and recreation.
Cataracts produce symptoms of visual loss, glare and sometimes double vision. They can occur at any age, but the risk of development of cataract increases in older people. Small incision techniques are used to remove cataracts in a painless ten minute procedure that uses drops rather than injections to numb the eye. Visual recovery is usually very rapid, with most patients able to resume normal activities within a day or two of surgery. Distance vision is usually good without glasses. Where appropriate, Mr Illingworth uses multifocal implants to reduce the need for reading glasses. He also uses toric lens implants to correct astigmatism, and his produced research publications on the use of these lenses.
This is the use of lasers and other surgical techniques to correct short sight, long sight and astigmatism. For most people with these types of visual errors, an 'all laser' vision correction system is used, avoiding the need for a mechanical blade to cut the cornea. Two separate lasers are used: a femtosecond laser to create a flap in the cornea, and a excimer laser to reshape the underlying tissue. Visual recovery with this type of treatment is even more rapid than with cataract surgery. For a few patients with refractive errors that are too high for laser treatment, the techniques of clear lens surgery or implantable contact lens are used. The patient experience for these techniques is very straightforward, similar to that for cataract surgery.
Where the cornea has become opacified or distorted by infection, injury or inherited illness, it is sometimes necessary to replace the cornea with one obtained from a donor. This is a more complex procedure than cataract or refractive surgery, with slower visual recovery. However with modern techniques, especially partial thickness transplants, the outlook has improved markedly compared with earlier times. Mr Illingworth has a special interest in corneal transplantation and is Director of the East Anglian Eye Bank, which provides more than 10% of the corneas used in the UK.