It is indeed alarming to know that there are around 280 million people who are blind in this world.
And 80% of them could have prevented this blindness by early detection and timely treatment of the eye problem. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in all walks of life. Especially over the last decade in the field of Ophthalmology (pertaining to the Eye) there have been various technological advances which have helped in improving both the diagnosis and treatments of various eye problems.
Today, people approaching blindness do not have to go blind and, in fact, can rebound from blindness and see again.
Assume the year is 1970, and that one of your parents had to undergo surgery to remove a cataract, ( a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye). Surgery took two hours then and required general anesthesia.
After the operation , patients were strapped down in a bed for 10 days, with sandbags strapped to each side of their head so that there was no movement of the head and all this was done to help heading of the wound.
When patients recovered, they had to wear extremely thick glasses for the rest of their lives.
Today, by contrast, cataract patients go for an outpatient surgery (Phakoemulsifictaion with a foldable lens implantation) in the morning, get some drops put in the eye as anesthesia , and go through a 10 minute procedure. It takes one to two hours to recover, and the thick glasses have disappeared. They can return to work in a day or two. Today there has been a further advance in technology in Cataract Surgery which is Femto-second laser assisted cataract surgery (FLACS).
The Femto-second laser helps in breaking down the cataract into very small fragments and these are then removed out of the eye by the conventional Phakoemulsification technique.
It is extremely precise and removes the human element of breaking up the cataract into small fragments.
LASIK LASER PROCEDURE
Technology has excelled again here. The Excimer Laser reshapes the cornea that is the front portion of the eye. The reshaping of the cornea is what helps to remove the spectacle number and a person is free of spectacles . Today, Femto-second laser is a further advance in Lasik technology. The Femto-second laser creates a very precise flap of the cornea and is termed “Bladeless Lasik”.
ADVANCES IN OCULAR IMAGING.
Advanced diagnostic imaging systems like the OCT (Optical coherence tomography) is a kind of optical ultrasound, which uses imaging reflections from any tissues in the eye.
It provides a much higher resolution than other imaging modalities such as MRI or ultrasound. This OCT is very useful in early detection of retinal diseases and glaucoma. It can also monitor progression of the diseases of the eye.
It is a biomedical implant technology which uses microchips which are currently developed by a number of research institutions worldwide.
The implant is meant to partially restore useful vision to people who have lost their vision due to degenerative eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or macular degenerations.
The technological advances are limitless and have been very impressive in the twenty first century. One can go on and on about them.
The technological progress in the field of ophthalmology will continue to grow at an impressive pace.
This is probably one of the most exciting times in ophthalmology in terms of developing technology that can help people who were once blind to be able to see again.
With the advent of technology, the incidence of blindness In the world will most definitely come down and there will be a whole new world to see.
DR SHILPA KODKANY
Kodkany’s Eye Centre, Belgaum