Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed worldwide, with one in every three adults receiving the operation during their lifetime. This means that there is a strong chance that either you or a loved one will need to weigh the pros and cons of laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery.
While traditional cataract surgery is safe, growing evidence tends to highlight the many benefits associated with laser-assisted cataract surgery. Learn more about these benefits, as well as more information on what other factors are important to weigh when considering laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery.
Understanding laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery
When considering laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery, you’ll notice that the main difference between the surgeries is not the overarching procedural method but the way that method is reached.
In traditional cataract surgery, also called phacoemulsification, your surgeon creates a small, handheld corneal incision with a blade. Then, they insert a device through this incision and into the lens capsule. Next, your surgeon will break up the cloudy lens using ultrasound waves, remove those pieces out of the lens capsule, and replace the old, cloudy lens with a clear, artificial one.
In laser-assisted cataract surgery, a camera is used to map the surface of your eye. Using this map, a femtosecond laser breaks up the cloudy lens and creates a precise incision in your cornea and lens capsule. As with traditional cataract surgery, your surgeon will then suction out the broken-up cloudy lens and insert a new artificial lens.
From incision to lens implantation, traditional cataract surgery takes around 15 minutes to complete, while laser-assisted cataract surgery takes around 20 minutes. Since the surgery duration is rather similar, you’re probably wondering, “Is laser surgery better for cataracts?”
Is laser cataract surgery safe?
Yes! Safety is one aspect that you typically don’t have to worry about when considering laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery. However, the success of traditional cataract surgery can be highly dependent on the skill and experience of your surgeon.
Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that corneal incisions and anterior capsulotomy made during laser-assisted cataract surgeries may be more accurate than when they’re done with a handheld blade. Additionally, the heat generated by the ultrasound used in traditional cataract surgery is more likely to burn the corneal incision and damage the lens capsule.
While more testing needs to be completed, this accuracy and improved safety may help reduce your risks for incurring cataract surgery-related complications. (For more information on the safety of cataract surgery, read our blog addressing the question, “How safe is cataract surgery?”)
What is the laser cataract surgery recovery time?
The laser cataract surgery recovery time vs. traditional cataract surgery recovery time is not monumentally different. Patients might even be able to see clearly the day of or after surgery (although sometimes it can take up to 2 weeks to achieve clear vision), and they should be fully recovered after 3 months.
However, the higher likelihood of complications occurring in traditional cataract surgery may increase your recovery time.
What are the laser cataract surgery side effects?
Similar to recovery time, laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery side effects tend to be the same. These can include:
- Eye infection
- Fluid buildup and/or eye pressure
- Implant movement or detachment
- Retinal detachment
Again, the increased accuracy and safety of laser-assisted cataract surgery may reduce the likelihood of you having to manage these potential side effects. For more information on post-cataract surgery side effects, read our blog on what to expect after cataract surgery.
Are there other ways to improve your cataract surgery outcome?
Whether you’re still debating laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery or not, one way to improve your cataract surgery outcome is by carefully selecting the type of artificial lens you have implanted during your surgery.
The majority of patients opt for a monofocal intraocular lens, which allows you to see better in one distance dimension. Multifocal cataract lenses, however, allow you to see both near and far objects better and are the most common astigmatism-correcting lenses chosen for cataract surgery.
When discussing cataract surgery options with your ophthalmologist, make sure to ask about lens options.
Eye Center of Texas: Helping you make the right cataract surgery choices
Debating laser cataract surgery vs. traditional cataract surgery? Confused about the cost of cataract surgery or what insurance does and doesn’t cover? Worried that you have fast-growing cataracts and need surgery ASAP? The staff at Eye Center of Texas is here to help!
Eye Center of Texas’s Drs. Mark L. Mayo and Edward C. Wade are both pioneers in bladeless eye surgery methods and receive referrals from over 300 Houston eye doctors. Along with their colleagues at Eye Center of Texas, they have performed over 80,000 successful cataract surgeries.
There’s no better choice for your cataract surgery in Houston. Give us a call at 712-797-1010 or contact us online to request your appointment today.