No Specs: The revolutionary new eye surgery
First there were glasses and contact lenses. Then, there was laser eye surgery; an innovative treatment for correcting short and long sightedness. But none of these compare to a revolutionary new treatment called ‘No Specs’ eye surgery. An all-in-one operation for poor sightedness, age-related spectacle dependency and cataracts; it uses the latest technology to enable you to ditch glasses and contact lenses forever.
What exactly is No Specs surgery?
It is a 20-30 minute operation which corrects the three main causes for wearing glasses; ametropia (long or short sightedness), astigmatism (an abnormal curve at the front of the eye) and presbyopis (an age-related condition in which the lens of the eye is unable to see near objects). Vision is restored almost immediately after the treatment and 92 percent of people are completely free from glasses with the remainder only having to wear them very occasionally.
Brendan Moriarty is a leading eye specialist and expert in vision and cataract surgery. He carries out the rare No Specs procedure at the Prospect Eye Clinic in Cheshire and explains exactly what it entails: “It involves removing the normal lens of the eye as in a cataract operation and placing a multi-focal intraocular lens in the eye.”
“This corrects distance, intermediate and near vision, and any significant astigmatism is corrected at the end of the operation by making small incisions,” he adds.
It was Moriarty that came up with the term ‘No Specs’ surgery and he now offers it as an alternative to laser eye surgery. “I designated the term ‘No Specs’ eye surgery to describe the procedure which combines two already well known procedures; multifocal lens implant and limbal relaxing incisions,” he says.
Why No Specs and not Laser Eye surgery?
Moriarty believes that No Specs surgery is less risky than laser eye surgery and its benefits are greater. Laser eye surgery does not correct presbyopia, whereas No Specs does and Moriarty says the results laser treatments offer are “unpredictable” for curing astigmatism and long-sightedness.
There are some other reasons for Moriarty’s preference of No Specs to laser treatments, as he explains: “Laser eye surgery involves cutting the cornea, which can give rise to dry eye syndrome. There can often be problems with glare post-operatively too, and re-treatment may be required.”
Medical insurance companies also consider laser-eye surgery to be a high-risk procedure. “If I wished to embark on laser eye surgery my malpractice insurance would be tripled,” Moriarty claims.
In regards to No Specs, Moriarty describes it as a “quick, pain free and predictable treatment which covers all forms of refractive problems.” Demonstrating his passion and belief in the No Specs surgery, he added: “It is the surgery I am considering having done on myself later this year!”
Who can have it done?
Anyone with the three main eye conditions ametropia, astigmatism and presbyopis, particularly those with underlying cataract problems can be considered for the surgery. At a cost of £2500-£3,500 for one eye or £5,000-£6,000 for both eyes, it is a more expensive treatment than laser surgery which usually costs £1,000-£1,500 for one eye.
However, Moriarty says as “people are becoming more aware of the costs and risks of laser eye surgery” the popularity of No Specs surgery is increasing and he said word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations are at the moment the driving force in the increasing popularity of the treatment.
What is the verdict?
Testimonials from patients who have undergone the No Specs treatment have been incredibly positive. “My biggest passion is tennis but as my sight deteriorated and I developed cataracts I found that I could no longer enjoy the sport as I literally couldn't see the ball on a sunny day, even while wearing my contact lenses,” says No Specs patient Margaret Withers.
“Now I can see everything crystal clear and never miss a serve! I cannot express my gratitude to Brendan; the procedure has transformed my life.”
Another patient who has benefitted from the innovative surgery says: “I have had to wear glasses for years, but they got in the way of everything; playing golf, bowls, even reading a bedtime story to my grandchildren could be a chore.”
“After having the No Specs surgery I can now see everything clearly without having to rely on my glasses. My sight has been restored to how it was when I was a young girl, so I cannot thank Brendan enough for giving me perfect vision again.”
How UiPath robots are helping with the NHS backlog
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many hospitals to have logistical nightmares, as backlogs of surgeries built up as a result of cancellations. The BMJ has estimated it will take the UK's National Health Service (NHS) a year and a half to recover.
However software robots can help, by automating computer-based processes such as replenishing inventory, managing patient bookings, and digitising patient files. Mark O’Connor, Public Sector Director for Ireland at UiPath, tells us how they deployed robots at Mater Hospital in Dublin, saving clinicians valuable time.
When Did Mater Hospital implement the software robots - was it specifically to address the challenges of the pandemic?
The need for automation at Mater Hospital pre-existed the pandemic but it was the onset of COVID-19 that got the team to turn to the technology and start introducing software robots into the workflow of doctors and nurses.
The pandemic placed an increased administrative strain on the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) department at Mater Hospital in Dublin. To combat the problem and ensure that nurses could spend more time with their patients and less time on admin, the IPC deployed its first software robots in March 2020.
The IPC at Mater plans to continue using robots to manage data around drug resistant microbes such as MRSA once the COVID-19 crisis subsides.
What tasks do they perform?
In the IPC at Mater Hospital, software robots have taken the task of reporting COVID-19 test results. Pre-automation, the process created during the 2003 SARS outbreak required a clinician to log into the laboratory system, extract a disease code and then manually enter the results into a data platform. This was hugely time consuming, taking up to three hours of a nurse’s day.
UiPath software robots are now responsible for this task. They process the data in a fraction of the time, distributing patient results in minutes and consequently freeing up to 18 hours of each IPC nurse’s time each week, and up to 936 hours over the course of a year. As a result, the healthcare professionals can spend more time caring for their patients and less time on repetitive tasks and admin work.
Is there any possibility of error with software robots, compared to humans?
By nature, humans are prone to make mistakes, especially when working under pressure, under strict deadlines and while handling a large volume of data while performing repetitive tasks.
Once taught the process, software robots, on the other hand, will follow the same steps every time without the risk of the inevitable human error. Simply speaking, robots can perform data-intensive tasks more quickly and accurately than humans can.
Which members of staff benefit the most, and what can they do with the time saved?
In the case of Mater Hospital, the IPC unit has adopted a robot for every nurse approach. This means that every nurse in the department has access to a robot to help reduce the burden of their admin work. Rather than spending time entering test results, they can focus on the work that requires their human ingenuity, empathy and skill – taking care of their patients.
In other sectors, the story is no different. Every job will have some repetitive nature to it. Whether that be a finance department processing thousands of invoices a day or simply having to send one daily email. If a task is repetitive and data-intensive, the chances are that a software robot can help. Just like with the nurses in the IPC, these employees can then focus on handling exceptions and on work that requires decision making or creativity - the work that people enjoy doing.
How can software robots most benefit healthcare providers both during a pandemic and beyond?
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, software robots were deployed to lessen the administrative strain healthcare professionals were facing and give them more time to care for an increased number of patients. With hospitals around the world at capacity, every moment with a patient counted.
Now, the NHS and other healthcare providers face a huge backlog of routine surgeries and procedures following cancellations during the pandemic. In the UK alone, 5 million people are waiting for treatment and it’s estimated that this could cause 6,400 excess deaths by the end of next year if the problem isn’t rectified.
Many healthcare organisations have now acquired the skills needed to deploy automation, therefore it will be easier for them to build more robots to respond to the backlog going forwards. Software robots that had been processing registrations at COVID test sites, for example, could now be taught how to schedule procedures, process patient details or even manage procurement and recruitment to help streamline the processes associated with the backlog. The possibilities are vast.
The technology, however, should not be considered a short-term, tactical and reactive solution that can be deployed in times of crisis. Automation has the power to solve systematic problems that healthcare providers face year-round. Hospital managers should consider the wider challenge of dealing with endless repetitive work that saps the energy of professionals and turns attention away from patient care and discuss how investing in a long-term automation project could help alleviate these issues.
How widely adopted is this technology in healthcare at the moment?
Automation was being used in healthcare around the world before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak has certainly accelerated the trend.
Automation’s reach is wide. From the NHS Shared Business Service in the UK to the Cleveland Clinic in the US and healthcare organisations in the likes of Norway, India and Canada, we see a huge range of healthcare providers deploying automation technology.
Many healthcare providers, however, are still in the early stages of their journeys or are just discovering automation’s potential because of the pandemic. I expect to see the deployment of software robots in healthcare grow over the coming years as its benefits continue to be realised globally.
How do you see this technology evolving in the future?
If one thing is certain, it’s that the technology will continue to evolve and grow over time – and I believe there will come a point in time when all processes that can be automated, will be automated. This is known as the fully automated enterprise.
By joining all automation projects into one enterprise-wide effort, the healthcare industry can tap into the full benefits of the technology. This will involve software robots becoming increasingly intelligent in order to reach and improve more processes. Integrating the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into automation, for example, will allow providers to reach non-rule-based processes too.
We are already seeing steps towards this being taken by NHS Shared Business Service, for example. The organisation, which provides non-clinical services to around two-thirds of all NHS provider trusts and every clinical commissioning organisation in the UK, is working to create an entire eco-system of robots. It believes that no automation should be looked at in isolation, but rather the technology should stretch across departments and functions. As such, inefficiencies in the care pathway can be significantly reduced, saving healthcare providers a substantial amount of time and money.