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Times of India
19 November 2010
Bangalore, India

Step into the hospital, get an eye surgery done, and come out all in about five minutes! Sounds impossible? Well, not really.

Bangalore houses the fastest available technology for Lasik, cornea replacements and other optic surgeries like keratoconus at Narayana Nethralaya. This is the first hospital to offer OptiLASIK laser vision correction.

On Friday, Narayana Nethralaya and Alcon India made the first global commercial launch of the wavelight refractive suite that offers the fastest mode of operating on patients with optic issues. Clinical trials of the device has been conducted in several countries across US, UK and other parts of Europe, but the company decided to launch it in India due to the huge number of cases here. The machine’s prototype was presented at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons at Paris last year.

It was set up at Narayana Nethralaya a week ago and ever since three Lasik cases and three transplants for keratoconus have been successfully conducted. Doctors say the advantage lies in the fact that procedures take just about five to six minutes. "We recently conducted a keratoconus surgery on a 11–year–old child without anaesthesia. It is extremely helpful for cornea surgeons as transplants and keratoconus corrective surgeries can also be done using this suite," said Dr Rohit Shetty, vice president, Narayana Nethralaya.

While simple Lasik surgeries were being performed over the last 25 years primarily on patients wanting to rid themselves of spectacles and lenses, this suite will now help surgeons to render fast and accurate Lasik and, in the future, also help cure cataract.

Shetty said around two crore people in India have refractive errors and 14% of them qualify as candidates for Lasik. "This machine tries to optimize each eye. It is like a custom–fit laser for each eye. 10 years ago, it used to take 15 minutes to perform a Lasik surgery. Now the process is less than three to four minutes," he said.

How Does It Work?
The fematosecond laser can cause the same effect on the eye as a normal blade that cuts the eye during surgery. The whitelight cuts the membrane in 35 to 40 seconds without the patient even noticing it.

The eye is then shifted to the Excimer laser side of the machine, to operate on the cornea, including corneal transplants. The sutures are far less and doctors can also perform INTACHS (fixing rings for patients with keratoconus).

Cost
The machine costs around Rs 5 to 6 crore while the cost of the surgery is around 40% higher. For instance, a normal Lasik surgery that costs around Rs 40,000 would cost Rs 60,000 in this procedure.

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