Blade­less cataract surgery, at a steep cost

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Live - - WELLNESS -

Atech laser that makes cataract surgery foolproof is all set to rev­o­lu­tionise treat­ment of the dis­ease that is the lead­ing cause of blind­ness in In­dia. The catch is that the cost of the new pro­ce­dure is well over dou­ble that of the ex­ist­ing stitch­less cataract surgery.

Cataract is the blur­ring of vi­sion be­cause of cloud­ing of the eye’s nat­u­ral lens, which is the part that fo­cuses light on to the retina to form an im­age. It is usu­ally age-re­lated, and if left un­treated, even­tu­ally leads to blind­ness.

Con­ven­tional treat­ment in­volves sur­gi­cally re­mov­ing the cloudy lens and re­plac­ing it with an ar­ti­fi­cial lens in­side the eye. The no-stitch tech­nique — called pha­coemul­si­fi­ca­tion — in­volves a small ul­tra­sonic probe be­ing in­serted into the eye through an in­ci­sion that is less than 2.2 mm. Next, high-fre­quency ul­tra­sound waves are used to frag­ment the cataract, which is then washed out from the eye.

An ar­ti­fi­cial lens is in­serted in­side the eye. No stitches are used and the in­ci­sion is self heal­ing, with the pa­tient go­ing home the same day.

The new com­puter-guided fem­tosec­ond laser is the next step to dis­solv­ing cataracts. The surgery is blade­less

A no-stitch tech­nique is set to rev­o­lu­tionise cataract in In­dia and uses a ma­chine called an op­ti­cal co­her­ence to­mo­g­ra­pher (OCT) to cre­ate a de­tailed three-di­men­sional im­age of the in­side of the eye. “This helps the sur­geon plan, cus­tomise and per­form the en­tire pro­ce­dure with pre­ci­sion un­matched by hu­man hands,” says Dr San­jay Chaud­hary, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Eye7 group of eye hos­pi­tals, where 40 cataract surg­eries have been done us­ing the fem­tosec­ond laser.

Once the data is fed into the ma­chine, fem­tosec­ond laser cuts the tis­sue, which is tra­di­tion­ally done us­ing a knife. “This tech­nique im­proves the skill of the sur­geon and com­pletely elim­i­nates hu­man er­ror,” he adds.

Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev chair­man and med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Sight Group of Eye Hos­pi­tals, chooses to put it less dra­mat­i­cally. “Since all the crit­i­cal steps are done us­ing com­put­er­con­trolled laser, the final place­ment of the new-gen­er­a­tion ac­com­moda­tive or toric lenses that elim­i­nate the need for re­frac­tive glasses is per­fect,” says Dr Sachdev, who is ac­quir­ing a fem­tosec­ond-laser this fort­night.

The catch is the price, which is more than dou­ble of con­ven­tional surgery.

While con­ven­tional cataract surgery (pha­coemul­si­fi­ca­tion) costs R40,000 for each eye, the new blade­less surgery costs R85,000 to R1.2 lakh, de­pend­ing on where you go.

Since it’s a step to­wards per­fect postop vi­sion, there are likely to be more than a few tak­ers for the surgery, ir­re­spec­tive of cost.


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