Cataracts are a visual impairment in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, resulting in blurry vision. Surgeries performed to correct cataract changes involve implanting artificial lenses to replace the impaired natural lens. There are two ways to perform this surgery—the traditional surgery method or with laser cataract surgery. The doctor will work with the patient’s needs to determine the surgery that is best for their unique eye.
Here are three differences between laser and cataract surgery:
1) Laser cataract surgeries do not require the use of a blade.
Traditional cataract surgeries involve using a vibrating needle to break up the cataracts, or cloudy lens, they also use a small blade to manually make an incision in the cornea through which cataracts are removed and replacement lenses are inserted. The incision is so tiny that it usually does not even require sutures, and the eye tissue seals itself. These procedures are generally safe and effective, and have been used routinely for decades. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, takes about 20 minutes, and has a very quick recovery time. Most people are back to normal activities quickly.
Like traditional surgeries, laser cataract surgeries break up and remove cataracts, and implant replacement lenses. However, in theses procedures, a laser instead of a hand-held blade breaks up cataracts and creates a circular opening for removing them and placing the new lens. Ultrasound is also used to remove the actual cataract. Recovery time is very similar to traditional cataract surgery, and most patients experience clearer vision and can resume normal activities fairly rapidly.
2) Laser cataract surgeries help increase accuracy and precision.
In addition to correctly sizing and fitting the replacement lens, the goal of both traditional and laser surgeries is to make incisions as circular as possible and in the right location in the eye. In most of cases, the implant will never need to be removed or replaced.
The primary difference between the procedures is that in laser surgeries, the laser creates a precise opening in the cornea. Studies have found that these openings are approximately 10 times more accurate when made by a laser rather than by hand. Additionally, laser surgery treats astigmatism, an irregular-shaped cornea, which helps to improve vision over the traditional method.
3) Laser cataract surgeries help to reduce surgical time and energy in the eye.
Both traditional and laser cataract procedures are relatively painless and have a quick recovery period. However, laser cataract surgery takes less energy and less surgical time, which helps to reduce recovery time. The laser has replaced the need for blades to make incisions and to correct astigmatism.
Following surgery, patients are told to rest for the remainder of the day at home. Someone should drive the patient home, as they will have received some mild sedation. Many patients can return to work and usual activities within a few days, depending on their responsibilities and visual requirements. Your doctor will advise you on the first postoperative visit regarding specific limitations related to your surgery.
Although laser cataract surgery is not typically covered fully by most insurance plans, we have tried to make it very affordable for most patients.
However, not everyone is a candidate for laser surgery, so talk to one of the doctors at Piedmont Eye Center to find out which option is best for you!