Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the United States,and 3 million Americans elect to have cataract surgery each year.If a cataract is not removed and the lens replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL),the cataract can actually cause blindness.
When it comes to cataract surgery, there are many choices. Several different IOLs are available, which perform various functions. There are also 2 different methods of cataract surgery…traditional cataract surgery and laser-assisted surgery (blade free).Both methods are effective and safe, but differ in technique.
Traditional Cataract Surgery
Traditional cataract surgery is safe and extremely effective. A surgeon makes a tiny incision in the side of the cornea to remove your clouded lens. Using a process called phacoemulsification, your surgeon will insert a small probe in your eye. The device releases ultrasound waves that break up the lens so it can be suctioned out.
Using the same small incision, your surgeon will then insert the IOL into your eye. The incision is so tiny that it usually does not even require sutures, and the eye tissue seals itself. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, takes about 15-20 minutes, and has a very quick recovery time. Most patients are back to normal activities within a day or two.
Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (Blade Free)
This procedure provides the same outcome as traditional cataract surgery but uses a different method. It utilizes a femtosecond laser to break up cataracts. Your surgeon will use special software to create a surgical plan with a 3-D image of the eye. The plan includes the location, depth, and length of the cataract in all planes. Using the unique map of your eye and the settings created in the software, the femtosecond laser will actually create the incisions and assist in the cataract removal.
Light energy from the laser causes disruption of tissue borders with minimal damage to nearby tissue. The old lens is removed, and then, the new lens is inserted. Recovery time is very similar to traditional cataract and most patients are back to normal activities in a day or two.
Which method is best for you?
When having a cataract evaluation at ECT, your doctor will talk to your about your options. Both methods have proven success rates. Bottom line, if you have a cataract you should take steps to have it removed because if it’s not removed the cataract can cause blindness.