Cataract surgery can be ‘greener’
For each cataract surgery done at the Aravind Eye Care System in southern India, a fraction of the carbon footprint is produced with each phacoemulsification case compared with the same procedure performed in the United Kingdom.
According to waste audit observations, Aravind averaged 250 g of waste and nearly 6 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalents per phacoemulsification, equating to approximately 5% of the carbon footprint for phacoemulsification in the United Kingdom – with similar outcomes.
Authors of the observational case series attributed Aravind’s assembly line model for surgery and use of reusable instruments as contributing to the reduced carbon footprint associated with phacoemulsification at their institution.
The study included 2,942 procedures performed at Aravind over a 4-month period.
Single-use materials result in the largest emissions related to ozone depletion, according to the study’s life cycle assessment. Most of Aravind’s surgical supplies are reusable and minimize the environmental footprint from material production.
In the Aravind process, the single use plastic face drape worn by patients during surgery accounted for more than 20% of waste by weight, and another 25% of the waste was accounted for by the packaging and paper booklet of directions included with each IOL. At Aravind, two-thirds of the waste is recycled and the remaining third is split between a landfill and biomedical waste incineration, according to the study.
“If Aravind were to dispose of all surgical supplies after a single case, the emissions from this phacoemulsification would be equivalent to performing approximately 13 phacoemulsification surgeries through the Aravind method,” the researchers said. – by Robert Linnehan
Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.