A cataract centre opened earlier this year in Tseung Kwan O Hospital has helped double the number of patients treated annually in Kowloon East to 5,000 and cut the waiting time for surgery from three to two years. There are more than 7,000 patients waiting for cataract surgery in the Hospital Authority's Kowloon East region. The service is also provided at United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong. Waiting list figures have been falling since early 2009, when more than 10,000 patients were on the list and the waiting time was estimated at up to 10 years. But the three-year waiting time is still the longest among the seven groups of public hospitals. 'One to two years would be a better waiting time for patients, and we hope to shorten it from three to two years this coming year with the launch of the new centre,' said Dr Joseph Lui Cho-ze, chief executive of the group of hospitals in Kowloon East. The centre opened in May. It has 20 doctors and has two operating theatres for performing minimumally invasive cataract surgery. 'We try to arrange it so doctors only perform one session a week to avoid tiring them,' said Dr Kenneth Li Kai-wang, the centre's director. 'We can perform seven or eight operations in each theatre in a session and there are two sessions each day.' Cataracts are common among the over-65s and lead to blurred vision. The surgery involves removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial one.