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Unique equine cataract surgery offered on routine basis

The University of Liverpool is offering a new form of equine cataract removal surgery on a routine basis, which could save the sight of thousands of horses.

Professor Derek Knottenbelt from the University's Division of Equine Studies and Professor David Wong from the Ophthalmology Research Unit, have developed a unique approach to cataract removal operations combining techniques used on humans and animals. The new surgery is proving consistently successful in restoring complete sight to patients without post-operative symptoms.

Based at the University's Large Animal Hospital at Leahurst, Professor Knottenbelt and his team are now offering the surgery on a routine basis to horses suffering from cataracts. The team spent several months testing out various surgical techniques used both on humans and animals to establish the best combination of methods to remove horse cataracts.

Georgie is a 15-month-old filly, with cataracts in both eyes. The team is currently preparing to operate on Georgie's second eye ?the first operation was completed without problems. Completely blind from birth, she will undergo further surgery at the University's Large Animal Hospital. Georgie is owned by the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH).

Cataracts develop because of hereditary, congenital and ageing factors and as a consequence of injury or ophthalmic disease. The latter causes are largely unsuitable for the treatment because previously attempted procedures carried a high complication rate.

To achieve the best results, the surgeons borrowed several techniques regularly used in human cataract removal. The team adapted a human phacoemulsification machine for equine use, which breaks up a cataract through ultrasound. They combined this with a technique commonly used in remote Indian Eye Camps to dislodge the cataract via the anterior eye chamber using a jet of saline. The teams remove the lens using an ultrasound probe
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Source:University of Liverpool


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