The Modern Cataract Surgeons. Losing one of the five senses is not a pleasant experience at all but nothing compares to losing one’s vision. This loss of sight can be caused by a multiple of reasons but majorities of the blind lose their vision through an ailment known as Cataract.
Fortunately, with the progress of medicine comes the foundation of a field that focuses mainly on the eye and in treating its ailments and thus, the profession of a Cataract Surgeon has been in existence for over three centuries now and still remains important as this debilitating ailment continues to impact the lives of many.
Cataract is basically the formation of proteins around the eyes as the person ages. The clumped-together proteins then form a small transparent film around the cornea that first blurs vision, then it becomes more solid and observable as time progresses and may leave the person partially or completely blind on the affected eye depending on the cataract’s size and location.
The fundamentals and the philosophy used in the surgery itself have barely changed in its three centuries existence, but the methods and the technology has changed beyond recognition. Modern cataract surgeons, at least in developed countries, will use techniques that would have surpassed old procedures and will be far beyond the comprehension of their predecessors.
Modern Procedures – Cataract Surgeons
Most cataract surgeons throughout the world use a long-established technique known as extra capsular surgery. This technique has proven to be effective in the removal of the cataract, as the doctor waits for the cataract to reach a level of hardness and opacity which allows it to be removed in one piece easily.
The surgeon first makes a long incision along the affected cornea, and pulls out the hard cataract through it. Any remaining residue of the cataract will be removed through suction. This procedure is generally the safest among the medical profession, but the risks involved in surgery are ever-present and further complications still occur.
Modern cataract surgeons in highly developed countries have the advantage of greatly enhanced procedure which reduces the risk involved to the lowest possible level which is known as the Phacoemulsification procedure. It involves removing the cataract in four minute cuts with an ultrasonic needle and then replacing the damage lens with an implant while keeping the structure of the cornea intact.
This procedure is carried out using only a light anesthetic, which is far safer than the anesthetics used in other surgeries, and it involves the creation of a smaller incision compared to the one made in a traditional removal technique. With this new procedure, the potential of future complications is greatly reduced and the recovery time for the patient has been greatly lowered.
Post Treatment Care
When the surgery is completed the patient is still kept under close, yet infrequent, observation. The patient, usually after a short rest, is then free to return to their home on the same day. The surgeon may remain involved on the case but only for particular circumstances (details on the paragraphs to follow) but monitoring can be done by other doctors of lesser qualifications. After the patient is discharged, there will be no cause for concern so as long as the patient takes care of the eyes and does not put too much strain on it.
There is one complication, however, that could bring the patient back for operation is if an after cataract forms on the residue of the eye lens. Though named as such, this is by no means a true cataract as it does not return once removed but it can give the patient a frightening though that another mass is developing, so it will be best if the patient will be notified of this particular condition in advance.
When this condition occurs, the patient will suffer a return of cataract symptoms like impaired vision due to the lens becoming opaque, hence its status as a pseudo-cataract. Though after-cataract may seem frightening to the patient, it is generally easier to correct than one would normally think. A small laser incision will be made to put the problem right and is painless. After correction, the patient is usually discharged immediately.
There is be another post treatment complication in which could lead to serious problems if not attended immediately and this is known as Dislocated Intraocular Lenses. More of an operating error than the eye’s reaction to the implant, this occurs when the surgeon does not accurately place the Artificial Lens in the affected eye and will lead to the patient seeing in double vision or the edge of the implant causing a distortion in the patient’s vision.
This can be corrected by creating again a small incision and then correctly positioning the implant and, if there is a need, sown in place. This problem must be attended to immediately, preferably in less than three weeks, so as to prevent the misplaced implant from embedding to the eye permanently, leading to further problems in removing them (and medical malpractice issues).
Future Improvements – Cataract Surgeons
The role of the cataract surgeon will likely face substantial changes in the future as there is little need or opportunity for improvement. The new techniques have generally reduced the operating requirements and risk to a minimum and the nature of the operation is unlikely to change for the next century.
Eye Surgeons today, however, aim to introduce the new phacoemulsification technique to developing countries as this technique is generally available in western countries only. There are still places where local eye surgeons still use the old procedure and usually with outdated equipment and in unsanitary places leading to far serious post treatment complications.
Another possible advancement in this field would be the development of better lens implants. Modern cataract surgeons today utilize an implant that could leave a majority of patients dependent to corrective lenses like eyeglasses.
Surgeons look forward to the day that a new implant could be developed, a lens implant that adapts itself according to the patient’s eyes so as to enhance vision instead of rendering it to other external equipment for clear vision.
As technology progresses, modern cataract surgeons also hope for new advancements in Cataract Treatment which can make it safer, faster, painless, effective and generally available to all.
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