Lasers open way to safer, better cataract operations

November 18th, 2010 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 18 (IANS) Laser treatment could make cataract operations safer and better for the hundreds of thousands who undergo them every year.

Some three lakh men and women undergo the 45-minute procedure every year in Britain alone, in which a clear synthetic lens replaces the clouded one.

Although modern technology has made the operation much smoother, the critical first stage which allows the surgeon access to the lens at the back of the eye is still done manually, reports the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The surgeon uses a scalpel to make a tiny hole in the front of the eye before using the tip of a bent needle to break his way through the supportive sac around the lens.

This hole is then widened by grasping it with forceps and tearing it in a circular motion.

Given the delicate nature of the procedure, its success depends heavily on the skill and experience of the surgeon, according to the Daily Mail.

The new technique, developed at Stanford University in the US, uses the lasers already widely used to treat short-sightedness to cut into the eye.

Dispensing with the scalpel, forceps and needle makes the cutting process up to 12 times more precise, resulting in “fast, clean surgery”.

In a trial of 50 patients, the procedure was deemed safe and to be as good at improving vision as the standard method.

The method, which takes slightly longer than the standard 45-minute cataract operation, is being refined by several companies and is expected to be widely available from next year.

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