Cataract surgery and environmental sustainability: Waste and lifecycle assessment of phacoemulsification at a private healthcare facility

Cassandra L. Thiel, Emily Schehlein, Thulasiraj Ravilla, R. D. Ravindran, Alan L. Robin, Osamah J. Saeedi, Joel S. Schuman, Rengaraj Venkatesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose To measure the waste generation and lifecycle environmental emissions from cataract surgery via phacoemulsification in a recognized resource-efficient setting. Setting Two tertiary care centers of the Aravind Eye Care System in southern India. Design Observational case series. Methods Manual waste audits, purchasing data, and interviews with Aravind staff were used in a hybrid environmental lifecycle assessment framework to quantify the environmental emissions associated with cataract surgery. Kilograms of solid waste generated and midpoint emissions in a variety of impact categories (eg, kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents). Results Aravind generates 250 grams of waste per phacoemulsification and nearly 6 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalents in greenhouse gases. This is approximately 5% of the United Kingdom's phaco carbon footprint with comparable outcomes. A majority of Aravind's lifecycle environmental emissions occur in the sterilization process of reusable instruments because their surgical system uses largely reusable instruments and materials. Electricity use in the operating room and the Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) accounts for 10% to 25% of most environmental emissions. Conclusions Surgical systems in most developed countries and, in particular their use of materials, are unsustainable. Results show that ophthalmologists and other medical specialists can reduce material use and emissions in medical procedures using the system described here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1391-1398
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cataract and refractive surgery
Volume43
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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