PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am


A new hi-tech approach to cataract surgery introduced to Hong Kong about three months ago is said to be safer and more efficient than the traditional manual method.

Femtosecond laser technology uses a near infrared light to create precise subsurface cuts on the cornea. It has been used to successfully treat 120 cataract patients in the city so far, according to Dr Jean Paul Yih, an ophthalmologist at the Hong Kong Eye Day Surgery Centre, one of two centres that offer the surgery in Hong Kong.

Dr Vincent Lee Wing-hong, an ophthalmologist at Hong Kong Laser Eye Centre - the other centre that does the surgery - says the use of the laser 'diminishes the risk of complications and trauma after operation, and wounds recover faster than before.'

Traditional cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure that involves the surgeon making cuts in the patient's eye, aided by a microscope. Though complications are rare, when mishaps happen they are usually during the incision or slicing process, says Lee.

Femtosecond laser surgery replaces the key steps in traditional cataract surgery. 'It is a very good way to increase the predictability and safety of the procedure - other than hiring a very good surgeon.'

The laser cuts the eye's lens into small pieces, so that less energy is needed to make the fragments tiny enough to be removed with suction. Less ultrasound energy means less trauma to the eye.

Cheng Kam-sik, 74, had his left eye fixed with traditional cataract surgery two years ago. Recently, his right eye was treated using the new surgery, and Cheng says he felt safer and more comfortable during the procedure.

Each year, 10 million cataract surgeries are performed around the world. In Hong Kong, an ageing population means the number of cases is on the rise.

Most patients will be able to undergo the surgery, says Lee, except in certain rare cases due to anatomical issues such as having small pupils.

1. What causes cataracts?

a. diabetes

b. ageing

c. medications (such as steroids)

2. A common symptom of cataract is

a. cloudy or blurry vision

b. poor night vision

c. double vision

3. As the clear lens slowly colours with age, your vision gradually may acquire what type of shade?

a. green

b. red

c. brown

4. If you have advanced lens discolouration, you may not be able to identify which two colours?

a. blue and purple

b. orange and red

c. grey and black

Answers: 1. all are correct; 2. a; 3. c; 4. a.