OK We use cookies to enhance your visit to our site and to bring you advertisements that might interest you. Read our Privacy and Cookies policies to find out more.
OK We use cookies to enhance your visit to our site and to bring you advertisements that might interest you. Read our Privacy and Cookies policies to find out more.

News Asia Pacific

Patients undergoing cataract surgery have lower blood pressure when listening to a mix of binaural beats and music. (Photo: Sarah Langdon)
Nov 20, 2012 | News Asia Pacific

Soothing sounds reduce patient anxiety during cataract surgery

by Surgical Tribune

CHIANG MAI, Thailand: The use of an audio therapy known as “binaural beats” can significantly reduce patients’ anxiety during cataract surgery, new study results suggest. The researchers from Thailand focused on cataract surgery because it is usually performed under local anaesthesia. The study was the first of its kind in cataract surgery, which is one of the most common procedures worldwide.

Binaural beat audio therapy consists of two tones that are each pitched at a specific, slightly different frequency, with each tone delivered to a separate ear via headphones. The technique evokes alpha-frequency brainwaves, a state that is linked to relaxation and reduced perception of fear and pain. In their study, the researchers combined binaural beats with soothing music and nature soundscapes, including ocean and forest sounds, to create a pleasant, familiar experience for patients.

The study was conducted on 141 patients, split into three groups of 47 and matched for age, sex, cataract type, and other health factors. Patients who listened to a mix of binaural beats and music before, during and after the procedure had less anxiety and a slower heart rate, compared with the control group, who only heard the usual sounds of a surgical suite.

Systolic blood pressure was also significantly reduced in both the binaural beats and music mix patient group and a second patient group who listened to music only. All patients were assessed before and after surgery according to the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, a standard test used to measure anxiety. Their heart rate and blood pressure were also measured before and after surgery.

The research team focused on cataract surgery because it is usually performed under local anaesthesia, with the patient awake and exposed to unfamiliar, potentially upsetting sounds, such as surgical machinery and conversations between the surgeon and staff. Although the procedure is highly effective and safe, patients may be worried about whether their vision and quality of life will be improved or reduced after the surgery. The results were consistent with the finding of previous research that the use of the therapy reduced anxiety in general surgery patients.

“As populations in many parts of the world grow older, it’s increasingly important for ophthalmologists to explore new ways to improve patient care for seniors,” said study leader Dr Pornpattana Vichitvejpaisal from Chiang Mai University. “Our study shows significant emotional and physiological benefits from adding binaural beats to music therapy for cataract surgery patients. This provides a simple, inexpensive way to improve patients’ health outcomes and satisfaction with their care.”

Vichitvejpaisal cited one of his study participants. She reported being afraid from the moment she entered the surgical suite for her first cataract surgery and, although she had been told it would not take long, the surgery seemed to drag on endlessly. Receiving audio therapy during her second surgery dramatically changed her experience from start to finish. She said that she felt very little anxiety and that the surgery was soon over.

The study results were recently presented at the 116th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago, USA, attended by more than 25,000 visitors and 500 companies, who showcased the latest in ophthalmic education, research, clinical developments, technology, products and services.

Print  |  Send to a friend