Cataract surgery gets high-tech boost from Summerland Auxiliary

Dr. Robert Semeniuk and registered nurse Sarah Wilson, patient care coordinator at the Summerland Health Centre, adjust the settings on a new Phaco unit used in eye cataract surgeries. The Summerland Health-Care Auxiliary is donating $100,000 for the upgraded high-tech machine.

Patients undergoing eye cataract surgery at the Summerland Health Centre now benefit from the latest high-tech equipment.

The Summerland Health-Care Auxiliary is donating $100,000 for a new Phaco Unit  a key piece of equipment used in cataract surgeries. It has been in use for the past couple of months, replacing an older model unit dating back to 2002.

We are fortunate to be able to offer our patients the opportunity to have surgery utilizing the most advanced technology currently available, said Dr. Robert Semeniuk, one of three eye cataract surgeons at the Summerland Health Centre. These machines have been used since the early 1980s and just like home computers, the technology has improved over the years.

Cataracts result in the clouding of the lens of the eyeball. They prevent clear images from appearing on the eye’s retina; causing mild, moderate, even severely blurred vision.

The Phaco Unit is used by the surgeon to dissolve and remove the cataract, while simultaneously inserting fluid to maintain the correct pressure within the eye.

We remove the old cloudy lens and dissolve it into a liquid. Then we vacuum it out as a liquid through a very tiny incision, Semeniuk said. A brand new artificial lens is then put inside the eye in the same place the old lens was.

Each cataract surgery takes from 15 to 20 minutes to complete, with the patient remaining awake during the procedure. About 40 surgeries are performed each week.

Semeniuk praised the Summerland Auxiliary for its support.

I believe we’re the first public hospital in British Columbia to have this machine, so we feel very privileged, he said.

Auxiliary president Gloria Flaman said they’re always happy to support the Summerland Health Centre with funding for new equipment acquired through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

Many of our auxiliary members  as well as local residents  use the services offered, she said. This new state-of-the-art machine improves cataract treatment for all South Okanagan residents.

The funding is generated by the Summerland Auxiliary’s popular thrift store on Victoria Road.