Callisto Eye: The Merging of Man and Machine

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The Callisto Eye system turns the eye surgeon into something like an advanced fighter pilot, complete with computer guidance and a heads up display. This ultimate merging of man and machine increases surgical precision and produces the best possible results after surgery. When using this equipment, eye surgeons will feel like Iron Man, who is aided by computers to perform at his best.

On 21 May 2013, the first computer-guided cataract surgery in the country was performed by Dr. Harvey Uy of Pacific Eye and Laser Institute (PELI) with the help of the Zeiss Callisto Eye. The Zeiss Callisto Eye system is the latest in cataract surgery technology, providing the highest level of surgical precision and accuracy for a safer and more efficient procedure.

The technology behind this computer-guided surgery is akin to that of the augmented reality technology used on advanced jet fighter aircraft. Fighter pilots, when they are flying their planes and doing their maneuvers, do not have time to look at their gauge; a split-second glance off the window can cause critical errors, so information would commonly appear in a heads up display.

In similar fashion, the Callisto Eye equipment provides visual enhancement to surgeons-also think Iron Man-and guides them in accurate placement of intraocular lenses. It is the perfect combination of man and machine, which enhances the surgeon’s skill with space-age technology, guiding him throughout the whole operation and showing how to achieve the most accurate results as possible.

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Currently, PELI is the first center in the country with a fully integrated suite of diagnostic equipment manufactured by Zeiss, the legendary brand that provides lenses for NASA cameras. I was lucky enough to witness first-hand a computer-guided cataract surgery that features the Zeiss Callisto Eye at PELI’s Makati Surgicenter. The surgery was conducted by Dr. Harvey Uy. Clad in a scrub suit, surgical mask and cap, shoe covers, with a camera on hand, and an acute rush of excitement, I was able to observe the series of steps the eye surgery patient went through to acquire the HD vision every person aspires for.

Before starting the actual cataract surgery, Dr. Harvey used a fine laser to mark the 0° and 180° of the patient’s right eye, and a marker to enhance it so the cataract machine could track it and lock down to the eye area. (Note: The patient’s left eye had already been operated on previously.) At this early stage, Dr. Uy was already able to secure the correct angle of the patient’s eye.

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The first part of the cataract surgery involved the washing out of proteins while the second part included the mounting of the lens into the right eye of the patient, aligning it properly to achieve the best results.

For the duration of the surgery, Dr. Uy was guided by key information shown on the screen, including magnification, amount of light, as well as a circle that determined where the center of the eye is. He likened the procedure to that of removing the chocolate part of an M&M while retaining its outer shell. The blue focus determined where the center of the eye is and guided the surgeon the whole time.

The eye surgery patient’s cataract needed to be softened first before being suctioned. This helped wear down the cataract into smaller pieces for easier removal. The cataract machine used ultrasound and water to dissolve the cataract and clear the portion of the eye affected. Once cleared, the lens was then placed into the eye at 17° (variable according to the patient).

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According to Dr. Harvey, if the lens were to be put in any other orientation, the patient would experience worse corneal astigmatism than before the operation had started. Consequently, without the Callisto Eye, surgeons would not be as accurate.

Looking back, when the Callisto Eye was not yet invented, surgeons were always off second guessing most of the time, not knowing the exact orientation that the lens must be placed in. This resulted in many unpleasant experiences for patients who had to undergo surgery once again. Now, with the computer-guided cataract surgery, not only does the surgeon get it right the first time; it also permits the patient to undergo a once-in-a-lifetime cataract operation that is both painless and permanent. When PELI started using the Callisto Eye system, Dr. Uy has been spared the need readjust the position of the lens of his cataract patients.

The toric intraocular lens placed inside the patient’s eye is the same as the toric contact lenses used for corneal astigmatism. Toric intraocular lenses are becoming more and more sophisticated that they can practically correct any grade a person has. The lenses just have to be placed in the correct depth and exact orientation for the best possible results.

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In just a little over fifteen minutes, the operation was completed. The patient did not even require a bandage to cover the eye. Recovery time is very fast that some cataract patients who undergo surgery in the morning are able to work in the afternoon.

What is truly exceptional about the computer-guided cataract surgery is that its effects remain for a lifetime. The patient would not have to remove or clean the lens anymore, which also eliminates the need to wear eyeglasses. It guarantees that a patient who already underwent the surgery will no longer get a cataract in the future.

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Since May, Dr. Uy has been performing the Callisto Eye operation on about 12 patients a week. The technology has grown beyond cataract surgery to clear out the cataract; it is also used for correcting the grade.

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While the Zeiss Callisto Eye system is currently more expensive to use, the results are incontrovertibly better. As time goes by, the cost of the procedure should eventually decrease. At present, only Pacific Eye and Laser Institute offer the use of the Callisto Eye equipment.

Special thanks to Dr. Harvey Uy, Mrs. Lorenza Lu, Ms. Jamy Gamos, and Ms. Monica Guerra for the opportunity.

 

Words by Janelle M. Bustilla
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013