Karolinne Rocha, MD: Advancements in Cataract, Refractive Surgery


Dr. Rocha discusses treatment options, overall safety, and patient populations undergoing surgery.

New advancements in the fields of cataract, cornea, and refractive surgery have transformed eye care for at-risk patients.

In an interview with HCPLive, Karolinne Rocha, MD, PhD, Director of Cornea and Refractive Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, discussed her expert work in these areas and innovative advancements in presbyopia and cataract surgery.

Rocha highlighted the sheer amount of advancements, partiucarly for presbyopia, cataract surgery, and lens replacements. Laser surgery in cataract removal can correct for astigmatism when removing the cloudy lens and introacular lenses can then benefit patients even further.

"When patient comes in for cataract surgery it is not only removing the cloudy lens, but we have the opportunity to fix and correct the focus problem," Rocha said. "Some implants help with the far vision, the reading lesion. The idea is that patient comes in with poor vision, and we can restore that vision, but then they can see distance in here without glasses."

She went on to discuss the interest in intraocular lenses, with new implants being created every year with high level of improvement and quality.

"It's very interesting when you do one eye, and the patients when they come back, they can tell the difference," Rocha said. "It was like, oh, my gosh, my eye that I just did is like a high resolution TV. They usually want to get the second eye done right away."

Then, Rocha discussed pharmacological approaches for presbyopia. Innovations like eye drops can soften lenses and stop the progression of a stiffer lense.

Rocha also discussed the patient population she is treating, particuarly for cataract. As a mostly age-related issue, she noted that in fact, patients are coming in for surgery at an earlier stage. The advancements in the technology offered, with micro incision lasers for surgery, have changed the 10-year trends.

"I remember before we used to wait for the cataract to get really dense and then we would recommend surgery," Rocha said. "But, these days actually we don't want that because the surgery can definitely be a little more complicated."

Patients additionally don't have the same confusion or fear regarding the procedure as it becomes more commonly performed, as Rocha noted. As an outpatient procedure, it is crucial to have a quality care team helping patients through their journey.

"The patients feel really comfortable going through the procedure, it doesn't hurt," Rocha said. "And again, it's an in and out procedure."

With an aging population, rates of conditions such as presbyopia are increasing substantially. But, Rocha additionally noted that the numbers of myopia are also increasing, particuarly in children who are spending the majority of their time using technology.

She concluded with the note that the procedures themselves are safe and have advanced substantially within the past decade.

"Especially at what's exciting is to be able to offer the introacular lens implants with really high quality and be able to address the patient's visual needs for distance and near and be able to eliminate the glasses," Rocha said.

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