Do you need cataract surgery and are wondering if laser cataract surgery is right for you?

Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed and successful surgeries performed in medicine. Of course, as with any surgery, there are risks involved. In some cases, laser-assisted cataract surgery may reduce those risks and improve your outcome. A femtosecond laser uses optical or light energy at an ultra short frequency: one millionth of one billionth of a second. It is a high-tech, advance technology that has been used effectively for many years.

Cataracts are the clouding of the lens that happens naturally as we age. Once cataracts start interfering or affecting your daily activities (such as reading, watching tv, driving at night), then it may be time to consider cataract surgery. Both laser and traditional cataract surgery are typically performed in an ambulatory surgery center, where patients are given “twilight” anesthesia to help them relax. Patients can go home the same day and resume normal activities the day after surgery.

Cataract surgery involves steps including: 1) making incisions in the cornea (clear part of the eye), 2) opening the membrane or capsule that contains the cataract, and 3) fragmenting (breaking up) the cataract and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL). In traditional cataract surgery, we perform these steps manually with surgical instruments. Now we can use the laser to perform these steps faster, with more precision and less risk of complications. This usually results in a faster healing time since less energy is used to remove the cataract. We can also make small incisions on the cornea with the laser to correct small amounts of astigmatism. Astigmatism is an irregular shaped eye (i.e. shaped like a football as opposed to a basketball), which can affect the focus of your eyes. Correcting even smaller amounts of astigmatism can give you the sharpest vision. There are also astigmatism-correcting (called toric IOLs) that can correct larger amounts of astigmatism. The amount of astigmatism is determined in testing and measurements performed during your cataract evaluation.

Patients also have options of the types of lenses they want implanted at the time of surgery to replace the cataract, including multifocal IOLs or extended depth of focus IOLs. These lenses give patients the most freedom from glasses after cataract surgery because they allow one to see from far to near without reading glasses. The positioning of the IOLs in the eye can affect the focus after surgery. This can be especially important with advanced technology lenses such as the astigmatism/toric or multifocal IOLs. The laser can help to perfectly center the IOL, which can improve the predictability and accuracy of the IOL selection and positioning

Laser and Traditional cataract surgeries have both been shown to be safe and effective. Each individual patient has different needs depending on occupation, hobbies, and other lifestyle activities. Only you and your eye doctor can determine which is the right option for you. Both Dr. Holly Gross and Dr. Nicholas have each performed thousands of successful cataract surgeries, and are available to help guide your decision, to help you achieve your best vision after cataract surgery.