Advancements in cataract surgery are allowing one Victoria eye clinic to provide their patients with a clearer picture.
Victoria Eye just received the first shipment of advanced technology intraocular lenses for cataract surgery in Western Canada.
“We got it ahead of everybody in Western Canada, who’ve all been wanting this lens. It’s been out in Europe for several years now and been really well received,” said Dr. Olivia Dam, medical director and ophthalmologist with Victoria Eye.
Symfony extended range is a premium lens which provides patients with the ability to see multiple distances, simulating the vision of a 20-year-old.
“Much of the population now, they want more than just what they used to have. And 65 isn’t 65 anymore. Everybody wants to golf, they want to read, they want to use their iPad [without glasses],” said Dr. Darren Behn, a partner at Victoria Eye.
More than 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts, which make everyday tasks like reading and driving a major challenge. Medical advances in eye surgery are now allowing older people to do things which were previously the domain of those younger.
“I have 80-year-olds, 90-year-olds, 95-year-olds, they’re using their iPads or smartphones,” said Behn. “This has changed the way we do things. And everybody wants to take their phone out, and even at that mid distance get a really clear [image].”
Victoria Eye is the only facility on Vancouver Island working with the ground breaking femtosecond laser for refractive laser-assisted cataract surgery. Dam said the introduction of the new lenses allows patients to have clear vision for near, middle and far distances.
“Up until now that technology has kind of evaded us without the presence of halos. This lens allows us to do that for patients without any halos,” she said.
Victoria Eye received its first shipment of the new lenses in mid-July and already they’ve performed dozens of surgeries.
“Just today we’re doing 15 at our centre,” said Behn, adding the procedure only takes 10 to 15 minutes.
“People are very anxious, of course, because something’s coming out of your eye. But after a minute and a half they go, ‘That was fun.’ They’re actually saying it’s fun now. It’s pretty exciting.”
Dam said not only can the lens be offered to anyone who is having cataract surgery, it’s also something that can benefit those looking for better vision at multiple distances.
“If you’re over 50, you’re a better candidate for this surgery than for the other laser surgeries.”
She said usually this type of technological advance would go to Vancouver or Calgary first, calling it a real bonus for the people of Victoria.
“This puts Victoria firmly on the map for world-class eye care,” said Behn. “We’re excited to be leading the country in this important field which transforms the quality of life of our patients.”
And it isn’t just Western Canadians casting an envious glance towards Victoria, the new lenses aren’t yet available in the United States.
“The States are a couple of generations behind us. We talked to a physician in the States and they’re very jealous that we have this,” said Behn, adding they’re seeing a few patients make the trip from the U.S. for the surgery.