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Music therapy during cataract surgery helps patients relax

A study conducted by Aravind Eye Hospital has found that music therapy can help patients undergoing cataract surgery to relax.

As many as 330 patients in the age group of 45-70, all undergoing cataract surgery for the first time were selected. While 165 patients were provided the music therapy, the others were not.

Ophthalmologists at Aravind Eye Hospital, Puducherry, decided to study if music provided relief from anxiety during the 10-12-minute procedure. “Cataract is a simple surgery but a lot of them become anxious and become uncooperative. They have a visual experience as the surgery progresses. As a result some of them experience increased heart beat and some people also have cardiac symptoms. For such people anti-sedatives are given. Some are even administered intravenous drugs,” said R. Venkatesh, one of the authors of the study.

Though music has been used as therapy, this time the doctors decided to look at the results both objectively and subjectively. The patients were provided with a music player and headphones and asked to listen to music of their choice prior to, during and post-surgery. During the procedure their blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory rate were measured every few minutes. Similarly, measurements were taken before and post-surgery.

“We found that there was a significant difference between the control group and therapy group post-operatively. The latter seemed more calm and had a better experience during the surgery,” Dr. Venkatesh said.

The patients were asked to rate their anxiety on the Likert anxiety scale. Based on the readings and from the patients’ response to the anxiety rating questionnaire, the investigators concluded that listening to music tended to help relax patients during the procedure and made them less anxious post-surgery compared to the control group.

For the study, the hospital collaborated with music therapist Sumathy Sundar, attached to the Mahatma Gandhi Medical College. “This is a unique study. So far, nobody has looked at the issue both objectively and subjectively. It is the biggest randomised study for therapy,” Dr. Venkatesh said.

The study also evaluated the surgeons’ perspective on whether the patients complied with his commands during the procedure. There was no difference between the two groups, the surgeons noted. This reinforced the feasibility of providing music to patients in the operation theatre, the study concluded.

Also 158 of the 165 patients indicated that they would like to listen to music in future surgeries as well. The study has been reported in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, brought out under the aegis of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 7:47:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/music-therapy-during-cataract-surgery-helps-patients-relax/article33208125.ece

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