At some point in their lives, 1 in 3 older Americans opts for cataract surgery. It is, in fact, one of the most common eye operations performed in the elderly population. Cataract surgery is performed to replace the clouded natural lens of the eye with an artificial unique clear lens which offers the patient corrected vision.
There are three important steps in cataract surgery- the initial incision to access the lens, breaking the lens, and its subsequent removal. All steps are performed manually in the traditional cataract surgery. The lens is shattered through an ultrasound instrument equipped with a vibrating needle. The shards are removed through vacuum suction.
Laser cataract surgery uses a special device called Femtosecond cataract laser which relies on advanced technology to gently perform the three important steps of cataract procedure. Here, the term femtosecond refers to the pulse duration of the instrument. One femtosecond is equal to one millionth of one billionth second (10 -15 ). Superlative guidance and speed of the laser make the procedure reliable, precise, reproducible, and predictable.
Laser assists the surgeon in:
Lens fragmentation: A step wherein the lens is softened and broken into smaller pieces for easy removal.
Anterior capsulotomy: There is a clear, cellophane type container surrounding the natural lens called capsule. Making an incision in the capsule of the crystalline lens is known as capsulotomy.
Corneal incision: Assists instrument insertion for lens replacement.
Astigmatism correction: The laser can correct astigmatism with special incisions in the cornea
What makes laser cataract the better choice?
In patients who had laser assisted surgery in one eye and manual in the other, removal of the lens from the eye that was treated with the laser could be achieved with almost half the ultrasound energy requirement than the traditionally treated eyes. Ultrasound energy causes non-specific cellular damage. Also, cataract removal from laser pre-treated eye requires lesser movement. The combination of lesser movement and reduced ultrasound requirement makes this procedure safer with lesser complications. With laser cataract surgery, endothelial cells (a determinant of eye health) are not lost as a casualty, unlike traditional manual cataract removal. Also, precision offered by instruments cannot be matched even by a skilled surgeon. In cataract surgery, one important step is incision. The natural lens must be cut as circular as possible to fit the artificial lens in the right location. Laser’s precision in making a circular incision is unmatched. Additionally, laser cataract surgery can also be used to treat astigmatism, which is an irregularity in the corneal shape.