Behind the Scenes: Improved Access to Cataract Surgery and Ophthalmology at CCH

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Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures offered at Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH), where we have a dedicated team of expert nurses and ophthalmologists who perform cataract surgeries and eye injuries using state-of-the-art equipment and modern techniques. .

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Dr. Tarek Youssef, an ophthalmologist at CHC who specializes in cataract surgery, said it’s important to perform the procedure quickly, once it becomes a problem, to ensure that ‘it’s not getting worse.

“Normally, the lens of your eye is clear, but a cataract makes the lens cloudy, which eventually affects your vision. At this point, we suggest cataract surgery, which involves removing the lens from your eye and replace it with an artificial lens,” Youssef explained.

In-hospital cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure covered by OHIP. The surgeon uses a special microscope to view your eye. They create tiny incisions to reach the clouded lens, which is prepared with a tool and suctioned to be removed. Finally, a small, rolled-up intraocular lens is inserted which will slowly and gently roll out into your eye.

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Most hospitals and clinics perform surgery for both eyes on different days. In 2009, in consultation with Youssef, the hospital implemented same-day bilateral cataract surgery for situations where patients have cataracts in both eyes.

“The benefits of same-day bilateral cataract surgery for patients include not having to return for a second surgery and not having to recover from two separate surgeries,” Youssef said.

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Although cataract surgery is an extremely common and in-demand surgical procedure, it has been greatly impacted by the pandemic and numerous operating theater closures. Prior to COVID-19, nearly 2,000 cataract surgeries were performed annually at HCC; but only 600 cataract surgeries took place last year as operating rooms halted elective procedures so staff members could be redeployed to other pandemic-hit areas.

“The good news is that same-day bilateral cataract surgery has also proven to be particularly effective as we recover and prepare for the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. With bilateral same-day cataract surgery, we can perform 28 cataract surgeries on 14 patients in a single day, which has allowed us to effectively reduce our surgical backlog,” Youssef said.

Mimeograph/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia NetworkA photo of Cornwall Community Hospital Dr Ahmed Asholi, CHC's newest ophthalmologist, left, alongside Dr Tarek Youssef in the operating room.
Mimeograph/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia NetworkA photo of Cornwall Community Hospital Dr Ahmed Asholi, CHC’s newest ophthalmologist, left, alongside Dr Tarek Youssef in the operating room. Provided

As CCH strives to improve access to care post-pandemic, we are delighted to announce that Dr. Ahmed Asholi, an ophthalmologist with over 15 years of experience, will join the CCH team on next month. Asholi will specialize in cataract surgery alongside Youssef, but will also treat diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and different retinal diseases.

“I look forward to treating my new patients at CCH and working alongside the staff and doctors,” Asholi said, adding that he “also believes the move to the area will be positive for me and my family.”

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, CCH performed over 4,900 surgeries last year and today our operating rooms are open and operating at full capacity.

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