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Diabetic Patients! Beware...
Sushruta, a Hindu surgeon was one of the first to study the human anatomy. His forte was rhinoplasty (plastic surgery), but he also specialized in ophthalmic surgery. According to Sanskrit manuscripts he was perhaps the first to perform a cataract removal procedure way back in the 8th century B.C. In the absence of anesthesia the patient was tied to prevent movement during operation and the lancet used to perform the surgery. The method sounds crude, yet, was pretty effective.
It may surprise one to know that this tiny organ can in fact lead to some 'killer diseases'. Dr. Shetty provides yet another shocking example. A healthy young couple came one day with their seven year-old boy, studying in the 4th standard. Apparently he was having problems aplenty. He often had headaches, was losing weight, not eating proper food and was generally showing disinterest in school matters. "We did a routine examination and checked his blood sugar. It turned out to be an alarming 450," says Dr. Shetty. "Sure, his eyes had been affected because of Diabetes, but the good news is that in this case the problem was detected early and with proper treatment he'll be fine soon."

Diabetes is now classified worldwide as an epidemic and this example gives credence to the fact that age alone isn't always the main cause for chronic eye disorders, though 80% of the cases do relate to age. Eye involvement is present in almost all patients with ten or more years of diabetes and even when a person's vision is normal. In other words, don't expect symptoms to crop up, because there are often none in the early stages. And when the first signs of vision change surface, the disease is already severe.

Diode Laser for Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the surgeries performed at Devi Eye Hospital and while this will reduce the risk of severe vision loss, educating Diabetic patients to frequently check their eyes is a key factor. "We give every patient at the Hospital a pamphlet to create awareness of Diabetic Eye Disease and emphasize on the fact that neglect can lead to blindness," says Dr. Shetty to drill home the point.

Cataract Facts...
Ancient India made many advances in medical science and the practice of surgery goes back a long way and this is no exaggeration but a proven fact. Sanskrit manuscripts dating back to the 5th century B.C record that Shushruta, a medical practitioner is reported to have performed the first ophthalmic surgery, more specifically, the removal of Cataract by a type of process known as couching or reclination. In today's context the methods used sound primitive, but the fact is that they were fairly successful and allowed the patients to see better.

Dr. Balakrishna ShettyGreat advances in science and technology means that today, the treatment of Cataract isn't ancient as it was in the 5th century. Yet, the fact remains that in India, 81% of blindness is caused by Cataract and the numbers are growing. A Cataract is a clouding effect that forms in the eye's lens and blurs vision. Like smearing grease over a camera lens. Cataract is not a disease; it's a disorder of the eye and is a natural process of aging. So, as you get older at some point in time Cataract is bound to catch up.

But first, let's get some misconceptions of Cataract out of the way. There's a notion that praying can cure Cataract. For that matter some believe that praying can cure just about anything. There's another school of thought that homeopathic, ayurvedic or allopathic medicines can prevent or cure Cataract. Not necessarily true or at least, the point is highly debatable. Then of course, there are the grandma's 'fix it' theories and a whole lot other explanations being bandied about that one can go on and on.

Dr. Shetty acknowledges that Cataract is a chronic phenomenon, but the process of removal is now pretty simple. "I think it's one of the most advanced sciences in any surgery and it's changing rapidly," says Dr. Shetty. The procedure offered at Devi Eye Hospital is called 'Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery with Foldable Intra ocular lens, the latest in the field of Cataract surgery. "The complications in this type of surgery are much less as is the post-operative care, the quality of vision is fantastic because the lenses used are very advanced and unlike those days when people had to rest for six weeks, they can now get back to work in four or five days. They want to play golf next day," emphasizes Dr. Shetty.

'Keeping an Eye' out for Change...
The regimen of training for Doctors of Optometry is intense. Dr. Shetty's been through the grind before. After he passed out from school at Baldwin's in Bangalore, and college from St. Joseph's, he completed his graduation from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore and Masters from the Medical College in Mangalore. Later, he did a one year fellowship at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad and six months at Shankar Eye Institute, at Coimbatore for a fellowship in Cornea transplant. In 1994 he started Devi Eye Hospital in Koramangala. In the year 2003 Devi Eye Hospital moved to its' present location on 80ft road.

Dr. Balakrishna ShettyDevi Eye Hospital, according to Dr. Shetty is a 'super specialty Eye hospital', with 25 in-patient beds offering comprehensive ophthalmic services under one roof, is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and also serves as a convenient referral centre for health care providers in the area.

But then, time stands still for no one. Each day ushers in new developments, new discoveries. Five years down the line a new generation of doctors will come armed with whole new technology that will revolutionize vision correction techniques, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that will prevent blindness. And the likes of Dr. Shetty will have to take fresh guard, adapt to these changes, and benefit from the enhanced possibilities of more sophisticated equipment. So how does a doctor keep abreast with such rapid changes? Can't shut shop and enroll in a university for yet another lengthy course, can they?

"We have regular Continued Medical Education (CME) conducted by the Karnataka Ophthalmic Society, every two months. Then there are various conferences, both national and international where we get to hear experts talk on the latest trends and changes in technology," explains Dr. Shetty. In other words, whatever the future may bring, Devi Eye Hospital under Dr. Shetty is focused on keeping abreast with these changes and giving their patients the highest level of care.

Dr. Shetty reminiscences on the occasion when he had to assist during his first ever surgery and the professor's voice crackled at him to hold the knife. "My hands went all over. Imagine the nervousness of an Indian opening batsman playing his first international game who has to face up to the likes of a Denis Lillie or a Michael Holding. I felt the same that day."

But then, cricket is a different ball game.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun,
Or it can insult like hissing or kicking;
Or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness,
It can make the heart dance for joy.
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