Introducing Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery

Before you can decide whether  to have laser assisted cataract surgery, or “blade  free” cataract surgery, you must first understand a little about cataracts and cataract surgery in general.
In the normal  eye, light passes through a clear lens before it reaches the retina.  The lens focuses light on the retina.   In an eye with a cataract, the lens becomes cloudy. This clouding distorts  rays of light and prevents light from being focused on the retina.  This results in a distortion in vision. The lens of the eye is composed primarily  of protein. Cataracts are caused by changes in the chemical makeup  of the lens. With age, the lens becomes thicker and less clear.

Surgery to remove cataracts is one of the most frequently performed procedures today, and also one of the most successful and safest procedures in medicine today.   It is estimated that there are over 14 million lens implant  procedures performed each year.
In your parents’ or grandparents’ days, cataract surgery was usually delayed for as long as possible because it was considered  risky and required  several days in the hospital. Today,  cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and the procedure itself takes only a few minutes.  The risks are much lower and the recovery is much faster for most patients. Now,  patients  have their surgeries done earlier because there is no need to wait until the cataracts are “ripe.”
Cataract surgery is elective surgery and that is good news for the patient. There is no need to wait until your vision is very poor.  We advise our patients  to consider cataract surgery when the cataract begins to affect their life style, close vision, driving, sports,  reading or otherwise.  The cataract will typically not damage your eye while it is growing,  so there is also no need to rush into the surgery. You can decide when the time is right for you!
Cataract surgery with phacoemulsification was invented in 1967.  This technology  has proven to make cataract surgery one of the safest and most successful procedures performed today.
Although  phacoemulsification is still the primary  method  used in cataract removal,  many of the critical steps with traditional phacoemulsification surgery are still performed with either a surgical blade, a bent needle or forceps. Now,  with the LenSx® femtosecond laser, I can perform  these steps without the use of blades and with a greater amount of precision.

Bladeless laser cataract surgery with the LenSx femtosecond cataract laser has significantly improved  the precision of several of the most critical steps that were traditionally performed manually.  The precise, reproducible steps performed by the laser mean better intraocular lens (IOL) placement  within the eye, less trauma to the eye, and more predictable visual results, which are especially important with Premium IOLs.
Bladeless laser cataract surgery is performed on our cataract patients that choose to have their astigmatism corrected  or that choose to have one of our Premium IOLs, such as the AcrySof®ReSTOR  IQ, AcrySof®Toric  IQ, or Tecnis®Multifocal.  The procedure is performed as an outpatient surgery at Hawthorne Surgery Center.
The LenSx femtosecond laser first creates an opening in the thin capsular membrane that surrounds the natural lens, called a “capsulorhexis.” This step provides an opening to remove the cataract. Studies have shown that less than 10%  of manual  capsulorexi, which are made with a bent or shaped needle, have been able to achieve the same accuracy that is produced with the femtosecond laser.
In order for the cataract to be removed, the lens must be softened and divided into manageable sections. This critical step is also performed with the laser, which creates less stress to the delicate fibers surrounding the capsular  membrane that will hold the intraocular lens in place.
Another  laser step involves creating the primary  and secondary  incisions. These stair-step  incisions are self- sealing and rarely need suturing. Two additional arcuate  (curved) incisions can also be created that are designed to reduce a patient’s pre-existing astigmatism.
Once these steps are completed, your surgeon will remove the cataract with phacoemulsification and implant  the IOL that you choose.

Posted in: Cataracts