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Techniques for the removal of cataracts


Dear readers,

October 11, 2012 was celebrated around the world as World Sight Day, the annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day presents a moment in time for us all to reflect on the significance of sight in our lives and to those around the world.{{more}}

Take a moment to imagine the world around you in darkness. For millions of people, this darkness is a reality. In fact, 285 million people in the world are visually impaired and 39 million are blind. What is the sight you love most and would miss most if you suddenly lived in a world of darkness?

Last week we discussed modern techniques for the removal of cataracts. Points to take home from last week’s discussion were as follows:

o Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgical procedures performed around the world.

o Over 97 per cent of patients claim a return to reliably good vision.

o Ultrasound technology (phacoemulsification) is a modern way to remove the cataract

o In actual fact the “ Lasers” used to remove cataracts (unlike those used for Lasik or Diabetic eye disease or in Glaucoma) are really ultrasound waves.

No stitch/small incision surgery has many advantages including:

o Quicker recovery

o Quicker return to normal activity

o Better vision in a matter of days instead of weeks

Today, we will look at more modern techniques for the removal of cataracts.

Topical Or No Needle Anesthesia (NO INJECTION)

In the older days, cataract surgery was performed under general anesthesia. This required that patients had to stay in the hospital. Much later modern advances gravitated towards local anesthesia. This involved retrobulbar or peribulbar blocks. This is a process where a needle is inserted just behind the eyeball and an anesthetic is slowly injected behind the eye.

This procedure allows patients to return home the same day and is much safer than using general anesthesia.

More recent advances in anesthesia allow for the use of what we call topical anesthetics. The patient is giving a sedative to help them relax and keep them comfortable. Eye drops are then used to numb the eye. This is used instead of a needle injection. Topical anesthesia is usually used when the incision is in the cornea.

The advantages of topical anesthesia

o Faster

o Greater patient comfort

o Reduced patient anxiety

o Immediate visual recovery (because muscles are not paralyzed as with local anesthesia)

o Eliminates potential for postoperative headaches

o Eliminates the need for an eye patch

As you can see cataract surgery is becoming more and more modern. Next week we will discuss other modern methods for the surgical removal of cataracts, including clear corneal incisions, foldable implants and multi-focal intraocular lenses.

Have a great weekend.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]
Tel: 784 456-1210