If you have been recently diagnosed with cataracts, you may be interested in knowing there’s a new way to remove cataracts more quickly and speed up recovery time.
Dr. Sean Ianchulev, M.D. MPH, Professor or Ophthalmology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has created a device called the “miLOOP™.” It’s a simple device for microinterventional cataract surgery and used an “actuator,” (shaped like a pen) to enable “rapid non-thermal cutting of even the hardest cataracts without using laser, heat, or vibrational energy, with no fluidic complications.”
In layman’s terms, it’s a super quick way to remove cataracts and restore vision within a day or two of the procedure with little risk of complication. The exciting new procedure provides the fastest patient recovery time in cataract surgery history, and patients can see and read on the first day after the procedure.
What Are Cataracts?
Approximately 22 million Americans over the age of 40 have cataracts, and it is one of the leading causes of blindness. A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, and people who have cataracts liken the condition to looking through a foggy window. Cataracts make activities of daily living like reading and driving more difficult and even impossible for many.
There are several different types of cataracts: cortical, nuclear, or subcapsular, but all cataracts cause blurry vision, and they may make lights seem too bright or glaring. Nighttime driving is especially difficult because of the glare of oncoming headlights and other lights around you. Colors may also not appear as bright as they once did after cataracts develop.
The lens of your eye is mostly made of water and protein with the protein being arranged to keep the lens clear and allow light to pass through. However, age causes some of this protein to clump together, and that’s when cataracts can occur. Most cataracts develop slowly and take years to affect your vision. What may not be a serious cataracts problem now will become more serious later as the cataracts affect your vision more and more.
According to the Mayo Clinic online, “[A]t first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye’s lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens.”
A Bright Future for Cataract Sufferers
If you are over forty and don’t have cataracts, there is a very good chance you may develop this condition at a later time. The prevalence of cataracts in the United States is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead, due in part to the aging of the population. In 2010, roughly 24.4 million Americans had cataracts, and that number is projected to grow to 50.2 million by the year 2050, according to the National Eye Institute.
People having cataract surgery prior to the miLOOP™ had their cloudy lens replaced with an artificial lens known as an “IOL” (intraocular lens). Prior to insertion of the IOL, your ophthalmologist uses a high-frequency ultrasound device to break up the cloudy lens into small pieces; the pieces are then gently removed from the eye with suction in a procedure called “phacoemulsification”. After all remnants of the cloudy lens have been removed from your eye, the ophthalmologist inserts an IOL, positioning it securely behind iris and pupil, in the same location as your natural lens.
Because of its cost effectiveness and portability, the miLoop™ may provide first-world outcomes in third-world settings. It allows ophthalmologists to remove cataracts in areas they may not have access to the expensive technology necessary to perform other cataract procedures.