Thursday, April 5, 2012

Singapore - New surgery method to be available for cataract patients

SINGAPORE: A safer and more precise surgery method will soon be available to cataract patients. The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) has acquired new laser technology, which will provide better long-term results for the patient.

Doctors have said that cataract is something that almost everyone will experience with age.

Some 10,000 patients at SNEC undergo cataract surgery each year.

The new laser technology, known as a femtosecond laser, helps surgeons make precise incisions in the eye. The lasers are similar to those used in lasik surgery, but have only recently been used to treat cataract.

Associate Professor Chee Soon Phaik, Head and Senior Consultant (cataract) at SNEC, said: "To the patient, the most important benefit is the visual outcome. When we're able to do this laser assisted cataract surgery, we believe that the patient will benefit from a perfect outcome, where the lens is perfectly centred (and not tilted forwards or backwards).

"Let's say the lens is forward because our capsule opening is a bit bigger than what we want, then the eye becomes a bit short-sighted and if it's smaller than what we desire, then the lens gets pushed back so the patient actually becomes far-sighted, and if the lens if tilted, the patient will have astigmatism."

Professor Donald Tan, Medical Director at SNEC, said: "In Singapore, we have a rapidly ageing population. A lot of our patients, a lot of Singaporeans will develop cataract. So we expect that the number of patients who need surgery will continue to rise in the next few years. So we have a new procedure, which makes it more predictable and safer to perform the operation."

But Prof Tan added that more research needs to be done.

He said: "The Asian eye, the Asian cataract is different from the Western eye. These lasers have been developed for the Western market.

"What we will be doing over the next few years is to collaborate, to do research into how we can actually customise this surgery more for the Asian eye. Our Asian eyes tend to be smaller, and therefore the suction ring, which is more for Western eyes, may be too big for the patient."

The new laser assisted surgery will be available to patients by the end of March.

Doctors said the cost to undergo such a surgery will be the same as traditional surgery for now. The current cost of normal cataract surgery, per eye, for private patients is S$2,840, without GST and excluding implants.


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