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Innovations | Feb 2012

5 Questions with Kaarina Vannas,MD, PhD, FEBOphth

1.What do you enjoy most about being a cataract surgeon?

Cataract surgery techniques are a never-ending story. I did my first cataract operation as an intracapsular cataract extraction, and then came extracapsular cataract extraction, followed quickly by phacoemulsification. Since 2004, my technique has been 2.2-mm microcoaxial surgery, changing to 2-mm surgery as the instruments get even smaller. Aside from the techniques changing, you can always improve your surgical skills, and this makes surgery challenging. I like the interplay with the phaco machine to make the fluidics work at their best in different phases of surgery and in different kinds of cataracts. My aim is to disturb the intraocular equilibrium as little as possible during surgery.

2. How do you envision that cataract surgery will change over the next 5 years, particularly with the advent of laser cataract surgery?

How new treatment modalities and techniques are introduced to practice in medicine has changed. In the past, the only way was through research and long-term follow-up. Now we have aggressive marketing, the Internet, and social media, which put pressure on us regarding what services should be available. Thus, we shall see increasing marketing and articles for laser cataract surgery and there will be more use of it, especially with premium lens cataract surgery.

Nevertheless, within 5 years, laser cataract surgery will represent only a narrow sector of the cataract surgeries performed, not least due to the price of the laser machines. Globally, it will not change cataract surgery within this time period. On the other hand, considering what the next innovations will be is exciting. Will we have IOLs that integrate into a precise, laser-cut capsulorrhexis? What would that lead to? At its best, laser cataract surgery opens new avenues to real change in cataract surgery.

3.What is unique about your approach to treating patients?

I emphasize and strive for a professional, warm, and reassuring relationship with my patients. I am sure this is important for the patient’s well-being and positive experience of the surgery.

4.What surgical cases do you find most enjoyable to perform and rewarding once successfully completed?

It is enjoyable when surgery proceeds smoothly, effortlessly, and efficiently, just as planned. Successful completion of a case is rewarding when I have preoperatively recognized the possibility of difficulties and complications in challenging eyes. When prepared for the worst, you do not take any step of the surgery for granted. As a result, complications can be avoided in most cases.

5.What are your interests outside of ophthalmology?

I enjoy exercise. Being outdoors is a part of my life. For me, it is a way to relax and let my mind flow. I enjoy several different sporting activities; luckily, many of them are done with my family members. Running, however, is No. 1. To balance running I do Ashtanga yoga and Pilates. Another delight in my life is our two dogs. Every day they teach me sincerity, joy, and how to live in the present moment.