Mon, Jun 16, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ma among growing Taiwanese with cataracts: doctor

By Chiu Yi-chun and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is recovering well from cataract surgery performed at National Taiwan University Hospital on Saturday, a hospital spokeswoman said yesterday.

Tan Ching-ting (譚慶鼎) said that the president returned to the hospital yesterday morning for a checkup, and doctors found the procedure had been successful.

The lens in Ma’s right eye, which developed a cataract, was removed and replaced with an artificial lens on Saturday night and he was able to leave the hospital at 10pm.

Ma had visited to the hospital earlier that day for a routine physical examination.

Doctors gave him a clean bill of health except for some weakness in a knee and suggesting cataract removal.

The cataract would not have impeded the president’s ability to work, but would have given him blurred vision because of its location in the eye, doctors added.

According to Tri-Service General Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology head Lu Da-wen (呂大文), a renowned cataract expert, an average of 140,000 people undergo cataract surgery in Taiwan each year.

That figure has increased by about 20 percent annually due to an aging population and growing numbers of people with high myopia, Lu said.

“This operation has a 95 percent success rate and it takes no more than three days for patients aged between 50 and 60, who receive the operation, to have their eyesight restored to 1.0,” Lu said.

Lu said patients should wear sunglasses for one or two months after the surgery because their eyes may become fairly light-sensitive after their lenses are replaced with UV-absorbing intraocular (IOL) lenses.

“As the cataract incision does not require sutures, patients should avoid rubbing their eyes or sleeping on the operated side after the surgery,” Lu said.

Although post-surgery air travel is not prohibited, patients should wait at least one month before they start jogging again and two months before swimming,” Lu added.

Most cataracts in Taiwan are age-related and such patients are generally advised to opt for spherical monofocal IOLs, which are covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI) system if the patient’s eyesight is lower than 0.4, Lu said.

“People who prefer aspheric or multifocal IOLs only need to pay the price difference between their preferred type of IOLs and the NHI-covered kind,” Lu added.

Lu urged elderly people to seek medical attention once they start exhibiting cataract symptoms, including difficulty seeing distant objects, a sudden increase in myopia, seeing more clearly when outdoors than indoors, or presbyopia, which is an age-related condition of being unable to focus on nearby objects.

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