Dr Joseph pioneers advanced laser eye surgery in South Africa

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Cape Town – A Knysna ophthalmic surgeon is at the cutting edge of laser eye surgery after he became the first surgeon in the Western Cape, and one of only two in the country, to use the latest and most comprehensive laser technology to improve sight.

The technology allows Dr Dylan Joseph of the Advanced Health Surgical Centre to perform procedures that are completely bladeless and makes use of tiny air bubbles to perform corrective vision surgery.

Joseph was also part of the first clinical trials in the world for this technology while fellowship training in refractive (laser vision correction), lens and cataract surgery at the world-renowned Wellington Eye Clinic in Dublin, Ireland. After two years in Ireland, Joseph headed back to Knysna, where he practised for five years before going abroad before setting up this technology locally.

The R20 million German-developed technology can perform multiple state-of-the-art procedures.

The diagnostic equipment utilised to drive the treatments is so advanced that it can visualise the cells on the surface of the eye to an accuracy of one-thousandth of a millimetre.

The technology can treat short-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism or a combination of the problems potentially leaving patients free from spectacles, contact lenses and reading glasses.

Joseph said the technology was known to not only reduce the already low risks of laser vision correction but also allows doctors to perform procedures accurately, swiftly and painlessly.

“In fact, laser vision correction is over a lifetime nine times safer than wearing contact lenses and, from a cost perspective over 10 to 15 years of wearing varifocal spectacles and contact lenses, cheaper to have a once-off laser procedure.”

He said the motivation behind acquiring this technology was his passion to help “change people’s lives”.

And this week he changed two patients’ lives using this technology. Both patients, one of whom is an optometrist, had severe vision problems. Both walked out of surgery – which in total took about 20 minutes – without having to wear spectacles or contact lenses.

SunelO’Riordan, a general practitioner at the Paarl Hospital, said she had always dreamt of having normal vision and had been wearing glasses since the age of 14.

She said glasses and contact lenses had robbed her of enjoying some of her biggest passions including cycling. “Sweat and sunscreen inevitably end up in your eyes which makes it near impossible to see and burns badly,” O’Riordan said.

Michelle Dateling, an optometrist in Sandton, said she too has missed out on experiences in life due to her vision.

She can see very little, mostly shapes, without her glasses or contact lenses. She loves scuba diving, but has been afraid to partake in this activity worrying over contact lenses washing out of her eyes and then being left “blind in the water”.

Both patients walked out of the facility on Thursday without their glasses and ready to pursue their passions.

Joseph studied medicine at the University of Pretoria and discovered his passion for eye-care during hospital rotations.

Subsequently, he acquired other qualifications including a master’s of medicine in ophthalmology degree from the University of the Free State and a qualification from the College of Ophthalmologists of South Africa.

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