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MUSC researchers find that a new development in cataract surgery
may improve outcomes more than has ever existed in the past

A cataract is a clouding of the lens (also called "crystalline") in the eye that affects vision. According to the World Health Organization cataracts are responsible for 48% of world blindness, which represents about 18 million people. They are very common in older people and by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. As a result, more than 1.4 million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States each year.

During cataract surgery, a patient's cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore the lens's transparency. Phacoemulsification is the preferred method in most cases. It involves the use of a machine with an ultrasonic handpiece. This device emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed by suction. The purpose of the study published in 2008 Ophthalmologica journal by MUSC researchers Fernández de Castro, Solomon, Hu, Vroman, and Sandoval, was to evaluate the efficiency of two different phacoemulsification systems (Infiniti vision and the Series 20,000 Legacy system) during routine extraction.

Thirty-nine eyes of 39 patients were randomized to have their surgery using either the Infiniti or the Legacy system. The average ultrasound time and intraoperative fluid usage were decreased in the Infiniti group compared to Legacy group due to the Infiniti system’s higher vacuum and aspiration settings. Phacoemulsification technology continues to advance and improves the ability of surgeons to quickly and safely remove cataracts. The study opens the possibility that use of a more efficient system might improve the predictable refractive outcome more than has ever existed in the past.

Fernández de Castro LE, Solomon KD, Hu DJ, Vroman DT, Sandoval HP.  Comparison of the Infiniti vision and the series 20,000 Legacy systems. Ophthalmologica. 2008;222:96-9.

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