The team of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at MU - Varna, together with a leading world producer of ophthalmic equipment and consumables, presented for the first time in Bulgaria a general solution for a computer-assisted surgery of the socially significant cataract disease. Thanks to a University project, launched at the end of 2017, patients receive these medical interventions absolutely free.
“Currently 10 people have restored their vision after free surgical interventions,” said Prof. Dr. Hristina Grupcheva, Vice Rector and Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Medical University - Varna. “By the end of the year, within the framework of the project, 90 patients with bilateral blindness will have the opportunity for free treatment.”
“The aim of the project is to achieve a higher quality of life for these people,” said Prof. Grupcheva. “In connection with the scientific project, we managed to acquire a microscope with a navigation system that navigates the surgeon during the operation and allows everything to be performed very precisely. The details are visible up to microns,” explained the specialist.
She pointed out that the project also had an important teaching objective. Videos are made, while the patient is prepared and his/her intraocular lens is calculated, which after that are of a great benefit to the students. “Live surgery is an important facet in our Department activities,” added the Head of the Department.
The uniqueness of the system is expressed in the complete integration between diagnostics and surgical treatment and has many advantages. It allows for the direct transfer of biometric eye data to the surgical apparatus in the operating room. Surgery is computer-assisted, enabling the surgery team to monitor each stage of the surgical treatment and make the right intra-operative decisions. The system allows for minimally invasive, bloodless and seamless surgery with the latest generation of a motorized operating microscope that projects all the basic parameters of the operation in the microscope eyepieces, providing complete control. The additional visualization allows students and specialists at MU - Varna to observe and take an active part in the operation process.
The patients selected for the project are required to have a bilateral reduced vision, which prevents their daily activities, and the eyesight of the better-seeing eye is at least 10%. Patients should not have accompanying diseases leading to visual impairment.
Besides being unique as technology and with major importance for the training process at the Department, the project has also a social significance as it is an initiative in the spirit of the 20/20 Project of the World Health Organization. This is one of the steps to the creation of a unique for Bulgaria Centre for Eye Health within the structure of Medical University - Varna.
Simeonka Todorova, a patient: I had cataract on both eyes for 10-15 years. When I found out about the project and the free operations, I gave my consent immediately. I threw away my distance glasses on the third day. I still use eye drops and hope that my eyesight will improve even more. I am very pleased with the team, everyone is so caring.
Temenuzhka Stefanova, a patient: I feel very well after the surgery. The intervention is expensive, and if the project hadn't provided that opportunity, I wouldn't have been able to afford it. I had a cataract for a long time, and I am very grateful to Prof. Grupcheva and her team for their care.