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Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery vs. Traditional Cataract Surgery

May 8, 2012

What is “bladeless” cataract surgery and how does it differ from normal?

Within the last decade, the advances made in vision technology have helped millions of people all over the world overcome frustrating and sometimes inhabilitating vision problems, from correcting poor vision to improving age-related eye diseases. Each year these procedures become more accurate and better than ever as the technology surrounding them continues to grow, and it is exciting to think about the procedures that are store for the future in the world of vision correction technology.

However, advanced technological procedures that help to correct vision problems are not something that we simply have to dream about for our future. Each year, new advancements are made to improve the already beneficial procedures that many people undergo each and every day, such as LASIK or cataract surgery. In fact, just this year there have been new ads floating around the optical world promoting “bladeless” or “laser-assisted” cataract surgery―something that was otherwise unused until now.

While there is still much research to be done surrounding the procedure, and we here at OCLI are still learning about the many pros and cons of this technology, it is still an exciting prospect to think about and consider for future use. To help you get a better idea of the benefits that laser-assisted cataract surgery could bring to the optical world, we have put together some basic information on traditional cataract surgery vs. “bladeless” cataract surgery:

Traditional Cataract Surgery

To understand how laser-assisted cataract surgery could be very beneficial in the future, it is first important to understand how traditional cataract surgery works. For us, traditional cataract surgery is a 5 to 10 minute operation that involves making a small incision into the cornea, usually using a microscopic blade, to open the thin capsule surrounding the cataract and break open the cataract into small fragments using ultrasound waves. Once the fragments are removed using a tiny vacuum, an intraocular lens implant is inserted to replace the focusing power that is lost when the natural lens is removed.

Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery

“Bladeless” cataract surgery is almost identical to traditional cataract surgery, except that instead of making the primary incision through which the cataract fragments will be removed with a blade, a fully-approved femtosecond laser is used. This laser can also be used to make any extra incisions that may be needed in the cornea in order to help decrease symptoms of astigmatism. The femtosecond laser can also be used to cut the capsule and break the dense central “nucleus” of a cataract into fragments before it is removed using the ultrasound instrument.  Certainly more time and expense is currently associated with this emerging technology.  The questions that we need to answer is will the results be better than the already great results we now achieve with cataract surgery?  This is what we are currently evaluating in our decision concerning the implementation of this technology.

As with all new types of technology that emerge, the full range of benefits and complications of laser-assisted cataract surgery is not yet known and many studies still need to be completed to realize the full outcome potential. Until then, if you are considering undergoing surgery for the removal of cataracts, be sure to contact OCLI and schedule your free vision consultation today.

 

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