'Dropless cataracts' make eye surgery more convenient, less costly
Posted July 9, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands of people each year have cataract surgery to correct a clouding of the lens inside the eye, and a recently approved change to the procedure could help patients avoid the inconvenience of using eye drops after their operations.
Vena Hendricks had cataract surgery on her left eye in 2012 after her natural lens grew cloudy.
"Things became blurry and had a yellow tint, and that's when I knew I needed to have something done," Hendricks said.
Before and after her surgery, Hendricks was prescribed eye drops to prevent inflammation and promote healing. The problem for Hendricks and many others, however, is that the eye drops are rarely covered by insurance.
"It was three different kids of eye drops," Hendricks said. "You have to remember to put those drops in at a certain time, and if you miss your eye, the drops go down the side of your head."
Ophthalmologist Michael Kelly said many people have similar struggles, problems he hopes to help eliminate with his newly approved "dropless cataracts" procedure.
The procedure, approved in late June, allows Kelly to inject a drug called Trimoxi into a patient's eye during the surgery. Trimoxi is an extended-release drug that contains both an antibiotic and a steroid.
After he removes a patient's cataract and replaces it with an artificial lens, Kelly injects the drug inside the capsule that surrounds the new lens.
"It just takes the place of the eye drops," Kelly said. "It makes it very convenient and less costly for the patient."
Hendricks had surgery on her right eye recently, just in time for the new procedure.
Doctors say patients who undergo the new procedure may experience temporary blurred vision or "floaters," which are shadows on the retina.
Kelly says about 10 percent of patients may still need some eye drops after follow-up appointments.
Dr. Mask recommends patients with cataracts get a second ophthalmologist opinion before making a decision about drop or dropless cataract surgery.