Dr. Edmondo Borasio, Head of Corneal and Refractive Surgery Department at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi sheds light on Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery which offers a more precise way of treating cataract.
Q: What is cataract?
A: Cataract is a progressive clouding of the natural lens of the eye resulting in progressive deterioration of the vision.
Q: What causes cataract and what are its main symptoms?
A: A clouding or opacity of the natural crystalline lens inside the eye is called “cataract”. This opacity prevents the light from passing freely through the lens and reaching the retina. The main cause of cataract is age but it can also be the result of different other pathologies of factors. Sometimes babies are born with this condition because of an infection or injury during their time in the womb. Diabetic sufferers or those who have been subjected to high doses of medication like corticosteroids can develop cataract. Direct traumas to the eye can also cause cataract.
Its main symptoms are foggy vision, changes in the way sufferers see colour, double vision and vision problems caused by glare
Q: How can cataract be treated?
A: Medications are not effective against cataract and the only way to treat it is by surgically removing the cloudy crystalline lens and implanting a clear artificial lens inside the eye. This is nowadays done with a very safe day-surgery procedure, which typically takes less than 30 minutes and is all done under local anesthaesia, with no need of any injection. The power of the lens to be implanted in the eye is chosen in advance using special biometry formulas so that the distance vision is corrected during surgery. If a multifocal lens is used, also the near vision gets corrected.
Q: Is it true that cataract surgery can now be performed with the laser? Are there any advantages?
A: In the late 60s there was a huge technological advancement in cataract surgery with the introduction of a new technique called ultrasound phacoemulsification (Phaco). This allowed the operation to be performed through a much smaller incision (nowadays of around 2.2 mm) compared to the older techniques which resulted in 12 mm incisions. Phaco allows a much faster recovery of the vision and much less trauma is caused to the eye. Smaller incisions also mean less distortion of the cornea (less astigmatism) which translates into better vision without the glasses.
The year 2008 saw the introduction of a new revolutionary technique called Femtosecond Laser cataract surgery (Femto Phaco). With this type of surgery, many steps of the operation which used to be performed by the surgeon are now performed by the laser machine, therefore in an even more accurate, precise and consistent way. These steps include a more accurate placement of the incisions on the cornea with the optional placement of extra incisions to correct higher amounts of astigmatism (which improves the sharpness of the vision); the creation of a perfectly circular and centered opening in the capsule (which allows the best possible centration of the artificial lens inside the eye); a reduction of the harmful energy needed to break the cataract into smaller fragments inside the eye (when too much energy is delivered this can cause irreversible damage to the back layer of the cornea, sometimes requiring transplantation).
We are now pleased to be able to offer this exciting new technology (LenSx Femto Phaco) in our Centre of Excellence at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi.