Eye treatment takes quantum leap in technological innovations | Inquirer Business

Eye treatment takes quantum leap in technological innovations

National hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who celebrated his 153rd birthday last Thursday, would be proud of how far the practice of ophthalmology has advanced in the Philippines.

During his time, ophthalmology was already a distinct medical specialty with Doctors Louis de Wecker of France and Otto Becker of Germany leading the field. Rizal studied and trained under these two giants in the field of ophthalmology.

Upon his return in 1887, Rizal immediately applied what he learned, and became the first to practice ophthalmology in the Philippines when he set up an eye clinic in Calamba, Laguna, and then in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte.


In those days, he had to deal with so many patients with all sorts of eye problems including cataract, which his mother, Teodora, had in both eyes (the primary reason he specialized in ophthalmology).


Dr. Harvey Uy, medical director of Pacific Eye and Laser Institute (Peli), said: “Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness and an important cause of visual impairment both here and elsewhere in the world. The main nonmodifiable risk factor for cataract is aging, which is why so many individuals in their senior years have this.”

Many firsts

Uy is the first ophthalmologist to perform the laser refractive cataract surgery in Asia; first in the Philippines to implant a slow-release steroid device for the treatment of uveitis (serious form of inflammation in the middle layer of the eye); and first to investigate the role of skin-derived stem cells in the treatment of retinal disease. He pioneered in the country the advanced-technology intraocular lenses and phakic lenses (eye implants that can correct nearsightedness) for the correction of refractive errors; and authored numerous scientific and medical articles and book chapters on ophthalmology.

Uy said: “Rizal would be glad to know that his beloved country now offers a number of the most advanced, safe and more effective procedures in the treatment of various eye diseases. Like him, we trained with the best in the world because, come to think of it, one should not mess with his/her eyes since they are extremely delicate and sensitive that only those who are well-trained and highly skilled should be allowed to treat or rehabilitate them.”

According to him, the eyes present us with the window through which we view the world and are responsible for four-fifths of all the information our brain receives—which is probably why we rely on our eyesight more than any other sense.

“Sadly, as you get older, your eyes develop a buildup of damaged proteins within the lens, clouding over it and impairing vision. The buildup eventually progresses to blindness if left untreated,” said Uy, who trained at Harvard Medical School (specializes in cataract, retina, uveitis and laser surgeries) after receiving his medical degree from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.


He said an estimated half a million Filipinos are blind, and many more are visually impaired to a lesser degree because of cataract, which accounts for around 400,000 cases.

Most advanced

“Here at Peli, thanks to the most  advanced equipment we acquired, a cataract removal procedure  takes only a couple of minutes, with the patient wide awake but feeling no pain or discomfort,” said Uy, who performs his procedures at Peli’s Makati Surgical Center located on Jupiter street (Peli is also located inside St. Luke’s Medical Center and at Pacific Centre on Quintin Paredes Street, Binondo, Manila).

He said that Rizal would be fascinated at how his fellow Filipino ophthalmologists today are able to harness the power of concentrated light (laser) as well as computer technology to perform eye procedures that were unimaginable or extremely difficult to do during his time.

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“He was our inspiration when we took up medicine, and he still serves as our inspiration to increase the number of Filipinos enjoying better vision even in their advanced age,” Uy said.

TAGS: health and wellness, innovations, technology

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