Practicing Eye Surgery on Grapes
As a retired ophthalmologist, I nostalgically look back on my early eye surgery training which was carried out
primarily on pig eyes. The current microsurgical method for performing cataract surgery by phacoemulsification
involves initially performing a high-quality capsulorhexis or opening in the anterior capsule of the lens. The
clouded nucleus of the lens is then removed by manual fragmentation followed by ultrasonic-induced
emulsification. The limited availability of synthetic and animal eyes as well as surgical simulators has led to the
use of Red Globe grapes as an alternative model for continuous curvilinear capsulorhexis.
The Red Globe variety of grape belongs to the species Vitus vinifera and has the largest diameter (up to 1”)
round berries of all the red grapes. These table grapes have a firm elastic skin with a mechanical tension
similar to that of the aging lens capsule. As reported in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Cataract
and Refractive Surgery, observations on trainees learning grape capsulorhexis, indicate that continuous
curvilinear capsulorhexis practice on the Red Globe grape closely simulates the in vivo conditions of the older
human lens capsule.
The marvelous grape is able to contribute to human health in many beneficial ways.