How pioneering contact lens implant got netball ace bank on court

Jessica Hargreaves spent years in thick glasses or irritating contact lenses – but now has had a lens implant. Catherine Scott reports.

A lens implant has seen Jessica Hargreaves ditch her glasses and contacts
A lens implant has seen Jessica Hargreaves ditch her glasses and contacts

Growing up, Jessica Hargeaves says she always struggled because of her severe shortsightedness.

But more recently it has been her passion for netball that led to her wanting to take action.

Jessica, 26, from Leeds, has played netball for two decades and is a member of Harrogate Phoenix, playing at county level in North Yorkshire Netball League. While training and playing once or twice a week, her biggest issue has been the contact lenses she has had to endure to see well enough to play. Her other great passion outside of work is photography, particularly taking images of her three dogs when out walking. Again, the challenge of poor eyesight was hindering this hobby.

Jessica plays netball for Harrogate Phoenix and North Yorkshire

With a strong prescription of minus 14, Jessica was very short- sighted and knew that meant laser eye surgery was not an option for her.

A visit to Optegra Eye Hospital Yorkshire in Apperley Bridge revealed a different treatment option. Mr Shafiq Rehman, Jessica’s eye surgeon, explains:

“Jessica has worn glasses since the age of four and her prescription, until recently, has been getting progressively worse. Now that it has stabilised over the past few years, albeit at a very strong prescription, we were able to offer her a treatment called Implantable Contact Lens (ICL). The lens is made to her specific prescription, and made of collamer which is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It is implanted behind the iris in front of the natural lens of the eye. This means she no longer needs to worry about glasses or contact lenses, and as the new ICL is within the eye it is fantastic for people, like Jessica, who love contact sport as the lens sits comfortably behind the pupil.”

Jessica says: “It was a no-brainer.”

“My glasses were so thick, and I had had enough of 10 years of my eyes being aggravated by contact lenses, I was so pleased to learn about this treatment. And now my vision is fantastic and the headaches I would regularly get are gone. Not many people know of ICL and some even think I am making it up!

“My sport is so much more enjoyable now. I still have flashbacks to playing at school and my glasses spinning off my face and across the court. And more recently the hassle of sorting out contact lenses in order to play, there was so much messing about with them – I was always fighting with them and they would aggravate my eyes.”