Candid and trustworthy advice about eye treatment

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Custom Vision Clinics does not offer a one-size fits all treatment. Instead, we select the most appropriate tool to the fix the patient’s visual problem.

We offer first-class, comprehensive eye assessment and customised eye treatment performed by James Ball, MA FRCOphth, in Leeds North, Leeds Centre, and Bradford / Harrogate.

Unlike high street clinics or private hospitals, we don’t attempt to qualify you within our range of clinical offerings (i.e. LASIK), instead, we assess your eyes without prejudice and recommend the best eye treatment for you, even if it is not offered at the specific eye clinic in which you are assessed.

Latest news: James Ball featured in The Mail on Sunday 12/12/10

Cataracts were my own 999 call: New surgery on the NHS saves sight of 28-year-old firefighter Lynsey

Sharp eyes and a calm response when faced with life-threatening situations have been Lynsey Philpott's stock-in-trade since she became a firefighter nine years ago.

But in January this year, the 28-year-old was devastated by a routine eye test which revealed she was in danger of going blind after developing cataracts.

'I was absolutely stunned,' says Lynsey. 'Just over a year ago I noticed I couldn't read maps as clearly on emergency call-outs and had to sit a bit nearer the TV to see, which is why I went to the opticians.

'I assumed I'd come away with a pair of glasses  -  not the terrifying knowledge that my failing eyesight could put my livelihood in jeopardy.' 

Lynsey Philpott

Vision on: Lynsey Philpott can continue firefighting following her revolutionary eye surgery

Now, after becoming the first NHS patient to undergo revolutionary new eye treatment, Lynsey has been given perfect vision for the rest of her life and last month resumed work at her fire station in Rawdon, Yorkshire.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens inside the eye, causing blurry vision. They form when protein in the lens clumps together, producing a frosted effect.

About 300,000 cataract operations are carried out every year in the UK. The majority are due to the natural ageing process, usually in those over 65.

But in Lynsey's case the condition was hereditary  -  both her father and paternal grandmother have cataracts. Only 200 children a year are born with congenital cataracts and of these, only a fifth have a family history of the condition.

'When I went to see James Ball, the ophthalmic surgeon at St James's Hospital in Leeds, I didn't really have a clue what cataracts were other than it was something that affected the elderly. I remember sitting in the waiting room thinking, ''Hang on a minute, I'm a spring chicken, what am I doing here?"'

Enlarge   About 300,000 cataract operations are carried out every year in
the UK

About 300,000 cataract operations are carried out every year in the UK

Lynsey, who lives with her daughter Madison, five, in Otley, near Leeds, admits: 'I knew my dad, who is 50, had worn glasses for the past 20 years but it wasn't until I told him I'd got cataracts that he admitted he'd had them since he was in his mid-30s.'

Glasses can help cataract sufferers but eventually surgery is essential to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new one. Traditional treatment still leaves the patient needing reading glasses.

'It was incredibly unusual to perform cataract surgery on somebody in their 20s,' says Mr Ball.

'We think Lynsey probably had these cataracts from birth in a very mild form and for some reason there was a sudden onset of blurred vision over a matter of months in her late 20s.'

Anyone who develops cataracts is eligible to have lens-replacement surgery on the NHS and would normally be fitted with standard monofocal lenses.

Mr Ball explains: 'With standard cataract surgery we could have given Lynsey good distance vision but she needs to see up close when she's working rather than fumbling around for glasses. It would have been a nightmare for her to do her job.'

Mr Ball urged her GP to request her Primary Care Trust to fund a new-generation lens, the LENTIS Mplus premium MIOL, which is still only available privately having come on the market last year. It has been proven to give patients perfect 20/20 vision.

The lenses and surgical costs would have been £3,000 per eye but distributors Topcon, hearing about Lynsey's plight, agreed to donate them. In September she underwent surgery to remove the cataract on her left eye and have the new lens inserted. Two weeks later she had the same operation on her right eye.

The procedure involved making an incision at the edge of the cornea and inserting the lens. Terrified at the thought of the operation, Lynsey was given a general anaesthetic.

Mr Ball says: 'Although the surgery is straightforward, she may have had side effects afterwards, such as dry eyes.'

Within hours of the operation Lynsey was back home armed with anti-inflammatory eye drops and a week-long course of antibiotics.

She also had to wear an eye patch for the first four days to ensure she did not knock her eye.

'When I woke up, there was no pain, just a bit of irritation as if I'd got something in my eye,' says Lynsey. 'When I took the eye patch off, the light was dazzling, but within an hour everything settled down and the contrast between my newly restored vision and the remaining cataract was amazing.'

Lynsey had to take a month off work to let her eyes recover but is now back full-time.

'After both surgeries the change was unbelievable  -  it was like having my eyes open for the first time,' she says. 'If it hadn't been for the surgery, my career would have been in jeopardy. I just feel the luckiest woman in Britain that this type of technology is around.'

Latest news: James Ball featured on TV 

BBC Look North interviews James Ball on the dangers of contact lens wear

See the BBC clip here. (You'll need Real Player to play this video). Or, view the video clip on the BBC Look North Website.


BBC Look North features James Ball performing "the most advanced laser eye surgery in the country"

Why choose Custom Vision Clinics for your eye surgery?

We offer the full range of available treatments to treat shortsight, longsight, astigmatism, presbyopia and cataracts, (and other conditions such as keratoconus and higher order aberrations). To treat these conditions, we use the most advanced eye treatment techniques including LASIK, surface laser treatment (LASEK, ASA, PRK, Epi-LASEK), Presbyopia lens exchange (PRELEX), and cataract surgery. For selected patients, we also offer Phakic IOLs, Intacs and Cross-Linking (CR-3).

Custom Vision Clinics is at the cutting edge of refractive treatment options, so we can tailor the treatment of your eyes to your individual needs, giving you an impartial recommendation of the safest and most effective method to reduce your dependence on spectacles.

Our surgeon, James Ball is an NHS consultant at St James's University Hospital, Leeds (Jimmy's) and is also in practice at the following locations:

Clinics locations

  • Yorkshire Eye Hospital
  • St James Laser Vision, St James's Hospital, Leeds
  • Spire Hospital, Roundhay Hall, Leeds

We offer a wide range of eye treatments. Which one is best for you?

The answer depends on your specific refractive error, the severity (prescription) of the error, your lifestyle, and other medical factors that can be only identified at a consultation with an eye surgeon.

More common eye treatments include:

We also offer less common treatments targeted at specific conditions such as:

We specialise in providing freedom from glasses and contact lenses

The range of eye problems we treat include:

Different people require different solutions

Generally, your vision problems and the ideal solutions to correct them will differ depending on your age range. (These ranges are general guidelines only)

To schedule a consultation

Please call 0845 6430 466 or fill in the web form to your right and we’ll get in contact with you.

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