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Cataracts: Researchers are developing new procedures for cataract surgery
According to health experts, cataract eye disease is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. Surgery can help many of those affected. German researchers are now developing a precise and cost-effective procedure with advantages over conventional surgical techniques.
One of the most common eye diseases in Germany
It has only recently been reported that the number of eye diseases due to demographic change will increase massively in the coming years. One of the most common eye diseases is the so-called cataract. Around 650,000 cataract operations are performed each year in Germany alone. There are around 14 million operating theaters worldwide every year. German researchers are now developing a new procedure for cataract surgery.
The risk increases with age
According to the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) - Society for Ophthalmology, the cataract with almost ten million sufferers is one of the most common eye diseases in Germany.
As the disease progresses, eyesight deteriorates, colors and contrasts blur more and more. The risk of cataracts increases with age.
It is also known that factors such as smoking, alcohol and being overweight have an impact on the risk of developing cataracts.
There is no drug therapy. Many of those affected are operated on.
Researchers at the Institute for Applied Optics and Electronics at the Cologne University of Technology (TH) are now developing a precise and cost-effective procedure together with the AZ Eye Surgery Centers AG (AZ-AG) Cologne, with advantages over conventional surgical techniques.
Use of an artificial lens
As explained in a communication from the TH Cologne, there are currently two approaches to open the lens capsule circularly during the so-called cataract surgery:
In conventional phacoemulsification, the operating doctor manually cuts a circular opening through which he then manually destroys the lens using ultrasound.
Alternatively, a femtosecond laser is used to open the front capsule and fragment the lens.
The subsequent use of an artificial lens is done manually by the surgeon in both cases.
According to the information, the use of lasers enables a more precise cut compared to manual technology. Disadvantages are the longer operation time and the high costs:
The laser device costs around 400,000 euros, with operating rooms incurring running costs of around 500 euros due to consumables.
Significantly lower costs
The new method of the cooperation partners from Cologne replaces the use of the femtosecond laser with a mechanical surgical tool. It cuts the circular capsulotomy opening in a controlled manner by rotating it with just a few turns.
The cutting tool is driven by an external magnetic field - the application of force is contact-free. The cutting tool, which is one millimeter high and has a diameter of five millimeters, is made of steel and is made with a special alloy.
"We are currently still performing functional tests to determine whether the precision is comparable to that of a laser," explains Prof. Dr. Uwe Oberheide, expert for optical technologies and biomedical optics, who together with Dipl.-Ing. Marian Jacobs developed the tool at the TH Cologne.
"Because the entire process is carried out manually by the surgeon, our technology is independent of the skill of the surgeon, since the diameter is determined by the instrument and the work step is thus quasi automated," said the expert.
The clinical input is provided by AZ-AG.
According to the information, the device will probably only cost a fifth of the purchase price of a femtosecond laser. The running consumption costs would also be lower.
Another advantage is that the entire operation can take place under the microscope and the patients do not have to be moved to the laser device. (ad)