A new way to perform cataract surgery to correct vision problems in people is being reported in the November edition of Science Magazine (see reference below). Because the new technique has been developed by such a large and diverse group of people, its introduction is not being attributed to any one research center or group of scientists, though the introduction of the new technique in ophthalmologist offices all over the world is expected to drastically improve the results most people get from the surgery over what is currently available.
Doctors have been looking for years for a way to improve on the trickiest part of a cataract surgical procedure, namely the part where they cut open the sack that holds the lens in place, and then repair the incision after inserting a new lens. Up till now, surgeons have had to pretty much guess at the best place to cut, and then to actually tear the sack in places where a traditional scalpel could not reach. The result was quite often scaring that caused distorted or blurry vision out of some parts of the eye.
The new technique, not surprisingly, uses a type of laser that both measures the part of the eye, the sack and the lens, and then runs through a complex algorithm that results in the optimal place for the incision. Then, a laser is used to burn off the cells in the best possible location on the sack that holds the lens, which causes and opening to form. The inside of the sack is then excavated, which means they remove the lens by destroying it with an ultrasonic blast, and then suck out all the fluid and the tiny particles that remain after the blast. The new lens is then inserted and the wound is allowed to close and heal naturally due to it being so small.
Cataracts in the elderly are generally believed to account for nearly half of all blindness that occurs worldwide, after birth, and has been a problem that doctors of many specialties have been working on for many years. Cataracts are the name given for a condition where the lens begins to cloud, which of course obstructs vision. Most people who develop cataracts eventually go completely blind if surgery is not performed to correct the problem. The only know solution is to replace the lens, thus the need for newer and better techniques for doing so.
The new technique is expected to greatly improve visionary results due to less problems with the incisions made and the recovery thereafter.