Cataract Surgery Gets Better
Dr. Aloysius Joseph Low MBBS (Mysore), FRCS (Ireland), ICO, Fellowship in Refractive Surgery (Melbourne)
Chief Consultant Surgeon VISTA Eye Specialist
Advanced techniques have resulted in smaller incisions and faster recovery time with cataract surgery.
If you live long enough, you will get cataracts. It is something that typically occurs to people
over the age of 55 when the natural eye lens becomes cloudy, making it harder for them to see clearly. Unfortunately, there is no eyedrops to melt away the cataracts. The only option is surgery: otherwise eventually the person becomes blind. That is the bad news.
The good news is the technology involved in such surgeries is getting more and more advanced. 30 years ago, cataract surgery involved making a 10mm incision on the eye to remove the cataract and then required stitches to close back the wound. Today, the cataract can be removed through a mere 2.2mm incision and a 6.0mm optic diameter lens can be implanted through that same incision, which usually closes without need for stitching.
Dr. Aloysius Joseph Low explains: “A smaller wound means faster healing. And theoretically
because the wound is small, the chance of getting an infection is less. In addition, when you
make a big wound you are actually inducing astigmatism. So, if you can reduce the size of the wound, then the amount of surgically-induced astigmatism can be reduced. The main thing that we want to ensure is safety and here, the smaller the wound, the better it is.”
Today, we have a procedure called, Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (FLACS),
which involves the use of a special machine.
Normally, the procedure for FLACS takes about 20 minutes. With a rock hard cataract, the
surgery time may be longer.
As for the type of lens, one can opt for a Monofocal lens which will restore distance vision, but one usually would require reading glasses for near vision. Those who want to minimize their dependency on reading glasses can opt for Multifocal lens, which enables one to see at multiple distances: near, intermediate and far.
Currently, cataract surgery can be conducted under topical anesthesia only, which is just
instilling eye drops. There is no injection. Dr. Low says he expects the patients to be able to
watch TV in a few hours after the surgery and usually by the next day the wound would have
There are follow-up visits to the doctor and antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eyedrops must be applied. All precautions should also be taken to ensure the patient does not scratch or rub the eye and re-open the wound. The second eye can usually be operated on the next day if no complications are observed in the first eye. Usually patients won’t feel balanced after one eye is operated because one eye sees clearly and the other, blurry. They would want to operate on the second eye as soon as possible.