New, thinner lenses used for cataract patients

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am

A private hospital has introduced a smaller replacement lens for cataract patients that doctors say requires a smaller incision and helps the patient heal more quickly.

Since May, about 20 patients at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Happy Valley have received the new lens and all have recovered well, ophthalmologist Ivan Chen Ngan said.

The hospital was the first in the city to offer the lens, which was developed in France.

The new lens is 30 per cent thinner than conventional lenses, and requires only a 1.8mm incision. Conventional lenses require incisions of 2.6mm to 3mm.

Intraocular lenses are used to replace the patients' natural, cataract-clouded lenses.

'The smaller the incision is, the faster the wound heals and the lower the risk is to the patient,' Dr Chen said.

He said another advantage of the lens is that its haptics - plastic side struts - are fixed at four points rather than two, improving stability.

The surgery takes about 15 to 20 minutes and costs HK$12,000 to HK$20,000. Each lens costs about HK$1,500.

However, as the lens is single-focus, the patient may still need to wear glasses for reading after the operation.

There are multiple-focus lenses for cataract patients but they cost more - HK$3,000 to HK$5,000 each - and the focus is usually not as sharp as that of the single-focus lenses. 'We will use clinical judgment to suggest what kind and what brand of intraocular lens that the patient should use. There are a number of choices on the market,' Dr Chen said.

He said most cataract patients were over 60.

The patients would suffer from blurred vision and higher sensitivity to light.

People with high myopia or diabetes have a higher risk of developing cataracts.

He suggested people have regular eye checks from their late 30s.

It is estimated that about 40,000 people a year in Hong Kong have cataract operations.

Thin is beautiful

The size of the incision needed to insert the new, smaller lenses being used for cataract patients, in millimetres 1.8