Doctors Darren Behn and Olivia Dam with the new cataract machine

Doctors Darren Behn and Olivia Dam with the new cataract machine

Victoria Eye goes high tech

Doctors are using a new cataract machine that is the first of its kind on Vancouver Island to help minimize risk during surgery

Stacey Holloway’s livelihood depends on her ability to see.

Holloway owns Stepping Stone Entertainment, a karaoke company, and for the past two decades she has been driving around at night delivering karaoke equipment for eager singers ready to belt it out. She also runs the busy day-to-day operations of the company.

But last year, she noticed her vision slowly beginning to deteriorate when she was helping a friend move.

“I kept taking my sunglasses off because I thought I had a spot on them when I was driving. I kept taking them off and wiping the window,” said the Victoria resident.

“I would walk into a store and it looked like the room was full of smoke. At work, my computer was getting fuzzy and hard to see and even trying to manoeuvre and doing what I do was tough.”

It was at that point that she went to the doctors and found out she had cataracts.

“I thought ‘Huh? Seriously’? I thought cataracts was predominantly for older people,” she said.

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and pupil, and causes vision loss generally in people over the age of 40.

Enter doctors Darren Behn and Olivia Dam.

Behn and Dam, ophthalmologists at Victoria Eye Centre, have been successfully completing cataract surgery with a new state-of-the-art machine, the first of its kind on Vancouver Island since February.

At the start of traditional cataract surgery, Behn and Dam would make a couple small openings on the edge of the cornea with blades. During cataract surgery, a device uses ultrasound energy to break the lens into small pieces that can be removed by suction through the corneal incisions made in the eye.

Now, with the new femto second laser machine, the imaging component not only scans the eye and produces a 3D customized reproduction of the eye, but it allows them to make cuts in extremely specific locations within seconds without the use of blades.

“With the help of the machine, the cuts can be accurate to the micron, whereas by hand, we would never be able to do that,” said Dam, noting that most of her patients are in their 50s to 70s. “As a surgeon, it helps me to an accuracy that I can’t do, it does make my surgery easy, more straight-forward. It makes it a gentler procedure.”

It also minimizes risk and optimizes outcome.

“Technology is changing, our population over the age of 65 is changing drastically, but it’s not the same generation, they want to travel, they want to golf, they want to do fun things, they want to read books without glasses and that’s something that we’re able to offer patients,” said Behn.

Holloway is one of roughly 100 Vancouver Island patients to undergo surgery with the new machine.

She added there was almost no recovery time and she even managed to go to work the same night.

“[My sight is] pretty decent, I’m excited to get the next one done, I’m just waiting for save up for it,” said Holloway.