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New cataract surgery could dramatically reduce waiting times

New cataract surgery could dramatically reduce waiting times

Friday 01 July 2022

Cataract surgery is currently one of the most productive and successful surgeries available to people with an eye condition. Cataracts appear on the lens and obstruct your vision by blurring your field of view. However, this can be remedied by replacing the clouded lenses with artificial plastic ones via cataract surgery.

According to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, it is the “most frequently performed surgical procedure in the UK”, and estimated success rates are between 95% and 99%. The impacts on quality of life are well-known, and appear to even have an impact on rates of dementia.

The only problem facing the NHS and the talented surgeons who provide these surgeries are the long waiting times people must endure before treatment, with some patients waiting more than 9 months for a surgery that can be performed in under an hour. LENSAR technology, which has received FDA approval in the USA this month, could potentially improve both the speed and efficiency of these procedures, and aid the NHS in reducing waiting times in the future.

Traditional vs Laser Cataract Surgery

Before we talk about LENSAR’s technology, we should talk about the two kinds of cataract surgery.

In the UK, the vast majority of cataract surgeries are performed via the traditional method, whereby a surgeon uses micro-surgical equipment, and manually removes a lens without computer-assistance. While the impressive effectiveness of this method speaks for itself, it is significantly slower than other options that have become available in the last ten years.

Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery aims to support the surgeon, through the use of a highly precise laser. Rather than cutting an incision into the cataract by hand, the surgeon instead uses a laser to make an incision measured to the micrometre, while also softening the lens for easy extraction. According to oclvision.com, the replacement lens is more likely to be effective long-term, as a smaller incision makes a replacement lens easier to position.

These surgeries are performed in less than half the time of a traditional cataract surgery, but the cost of the laser equipment is quite steep, with a single unit costing close to £400,000.

What’s special about LENSAR?

LENSAR’s new ALLY™ laser system improves the efficiency of laser cataract surgery even further. Their latest model incorporates both the imaging hardware that surgeons need to make an incision, with the femtosecond laser which will be used to make the operation. This means the diagnosis, analysis and treatment for cataracts are all possible within a single instrument.

While there will be some time before LENSAR reaches the UK, the potential for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment could allow the NHS to meet its treatment targets for cataract surgery.

Currently, the average age of someone receiving cataract surgery is seventy-five years old, but we know that the vision problems cataracts create appear far earlier than that in many cases, and quality of life could be improved by earlier surgeries.

Cataracts are almost guaranteed to affect your eyes at some point. Perhaps by the time you are eligible for treatment, a LENSAR machine will be used to diagnose and treat you.

Sources:

  1. Ophthalmology Times.
  2. AOP.
  3. RCOPHTH.
  4. Lenser.
  5. FLEI.
  6. Oclvision.

Label:

Cataracts

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Comments

  • Vivian Bould
    02 Jul 2022

    Having read your info. above the NHS will hopefully have this procedure in place in a few years time. Do you know if it is available in the USA?

    Serious Readers reply:

    Hi Vivian, Thanks for your comment on our article. Yes, it is available in the USA where laser cataract surgery is better established. If there are any updates and it becomes available on the NHS, we will share an update. Thanks, Serious Readers Team

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