Technological Advances In The Treatment Of cataract
The eye is like a camera. Light enters the eye and passes through a lens which focuses the light onto the retina creating an image which is decoded by the brain. This leads to the phenomenon we know as ‘vision’ of all the diseases that affect the eye, cataract is perhaps the most common. Cataract is a condition where the lens
in the human eye becomes opaque, leading to hazy vision. Cataract has been affecting human beings since the beginning of mankind and is a medical condition that has been mentioned even in the most ancient texts like the Bible and Sushruta Samhita.
“Cataract is a condition where the lens in the human eye becomes opaque, leading to hazy vision”
Causes Of Cataract
- Cataract is usually age related and caused due to old age. However, in certain diseases like rubella even babies can be born with cataract.
- People working around hot surfaces like barbeque chefs and steel mill workers have also been known to develop cataracts.
- Diabetes, especially if poorly controlled, can lead to cataract.
- Any blow or injury to the eye frequently results in cataract.
- People who work in or around nuclear plants or undergo radiation treatment for cancer develop cataracts.
- People who take steroids for diseases like arthritis also develop cataracts.
- Other diseases of the eye like uveitis or glaucoma can also lead to cataracts.
Treatments And Procedures Over The Years
Normally, before a person experiences a drop in vision, they complain of a glare while driving at night. Sometimes, early cataract can increase pressure in the eyes leading to mild headaches. in the days gone by, the eye was cut open and the cataract was extracted in one piece after which the eye was sutured up again. This technique was not always successful as patients sometimes experienced bleeding and loss of the jelly of the eye called vitreous, Implanting a lens in the eye after cataract removal was taken sceptically by most surgeons and patients had to struggle with heavy and cumbersome glasses.
By the 1980’s, a device called ‘phacoemulsiher’ was developed to treat cataract. The tip of this device vibrates rapidly at 40000 times per second with the help of ultrasound technology. This process breaks the opaque lens that is formed in the eye. The remnants are sucked out through the very same vibrating tip. While this is colloquially called laser removal of cataract, in reality it is an ultrasound based method. In case of hard cataracts, the heat from the process damages the cornea, resulting in a long recovery time for the patient. The entire process is carried out by the surgeon and is not automated.
Robotic Femto Laser
The latest method of dealing with cataracts is known as robotic femto laser. This is a true laser based system where there is no blade penetration into the eye. Instead, within just 35 seconds, the cataract can be broken up, allowing for its removal through a smaller incision than that used in traditional cataract techniques. The entry into the eye is just 2mm in width and is made by the laser. This treatment can treat hard cataracts as well without the side effects of an ultrasound.
This robotic laser surgery is the latest development in the field. People prone to bleeding and high diabetics can also safely opt for this procedure. No injections are administered during the procedure and only eye drops are used twice, to numb the eye. Recovery is nearly instantaneous with some patients reporting that they could even see television clearly in the evening on the day of the surgery.
The Extended Range Of Vision Lens
Naturally, after the cataract Is extracted from the eye using whichever method, a lens needs to be implanted to take its place. The latest development in lenses is the extended range of vision lens which allows the patient to see far and near things without the use of glasses. This has proved to be a boon for swimmers, people who work with computers and read a lot, as they don’t need to carry a pair of reading glasses around. Therefore, cataract surgery has evolved over the years and has reached a high standard today.
The relentless influx of new technology has changed the way we treat eye diseases. In the future, it may be possible to ensure that a majority of the population will enjoy good vision, even in their golden years. Therefore, it is recommended that you visit your doctor regularly for check-ups to find out about new treatment options that are being made available to patients.