Will My Cataract Surgery Be Done With a Laser?

Dr. Patel preforming surgery

The use of laser in cataract surgery is increasing every year and gaining popularity so naturally people want to know more about it.I have noticed that when people speak of laser eye surgery they always think it means Lasik, which is the laser procedure to remove your glasses or contact lens prescription. Now Lasik is only one of many ways lasers are used for treating eye diseases and there are many more. Here are some of other uses of lasers for eye care:

1. Treatment for various types of glaucoma
2. Treating retinal diseases like diabetic retinopathy
3. Laser assisted cataract surgery, which is the topic of today’s blog.
4. Treating corneal scar and irregular shape
5. Polishing artificial lens implant after cataract surgery
Newer ways to use laser for eye care are coming out all the time so its use is only increasing. Therefore, don’t mistake all lasers are use to remove your eyeglass prescription. The laser used in cataract surgery has its own purpose. Laser can assist in cataract surgery by:

1. Making the main incisions for cataract surgery
2. Making the opening of the lens outer shell
3. Softening of the cataract for easy removal
The laser is not used for all the steps of cataract surgery and the standard techniques of using ultrasound machine and vacuum to remove the cataract is still needed.

The theoretical advantage of using the laser is that you get a predictable and accurate placement of the artificial lens in the eye while using less amount of energy. This should result in the best possible vision with faster recovery. Having said that there is no study that shows the laser results in better overall vision in the long run.

As you can see from the picture above the laser is docked onto the eye with patient lying on their back, suction is applied and the laser emits light energy for around 15- 30 seconds and its over. Quick and painless. From that point on an ultrasound machine is used to remove the cataract and place the artificial lens in the eye.

So to get back to the original question, the simple answer is yes that cataract surgery can be done with the help of a laser. But it isn’t part of cataract surgery by default. Some surgeons only do cataract surgery with laser. Some patients are not a good candidate for laser assisted cataract surgery for medical reasons. Additionally, it is never covered by insurance and the cost is passed down to the patient.

Laser assisted cataract surgery may very well be how all cataract surgeries are performed in the future so speak with your cataract surgeon to see if this is a good option for you.

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