What to Expect When You Have Laser Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is the only way to effectively restore vision altered by cataracts. Luckily, it’s a very low-risk procedure and often has excellent outcomes. 

By removing your cataracts entirely, cataract surgery can completely eradicate unwanted cataract symptoms. Many patients find that cataract surgery gives them their life back, enabling them to see once again.

While traditional cataract surgery works well for most people, a newer form of cataract surgery can lead to even better outcomes: laser cataract surgery. Keep reading to learn more about laser cataract surgery and what to expect when you have laser cataract surgery!

Cataract Surgery

Laser cataract surgery is performed similarly to traditional cataract surgery but with a couple of key differences. These differences lead to a cleaner, more precise procedure. 

To understand how laser cataract surgery works, you first need to understand how cataract surgery, in general, is performed. Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural, the crystalline lens becomes cloudy.

The only way to remove a cataract is to remove the lens it has formed in entirely, which is precisely what happens during cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will break up and remove your eye’s natural lens through a very small incision. 

Then, your cataract surgeon will replace it with an intraocular lens, or IOL. An IOL is an artificial lens that comes in several varieties, most of which are designed to correct your natural refractive error.

Cataract surgery is a very commonly performed procedure. Given how common cataracts are, this isn’t surprising. 

Laser cataract surgery is simply a newer and more advanced form of traditional cataract surgery. They both accomplish the same task, but laser cataract surgery may be more beneficial for many people.

Laser vs. Traditional Surgery

During traditional cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon uses a very small blade in order to make the primary incisions into the eye to reach the lens. The cataract surgeon who makes these incisions must be extremely careful to cut into the correct location.

While many surgeons who perform cataract surgery have done it so many times and are skilled in making these incisions, there’s always a degree of human error. Laser cataract surgery eliminates human error. 

When you have laser cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon not only uses a laser to make the incisions, but the laser is programmed with a system called LenSx. The system allows your cataract surgeon to locate precisely where to make incisions to optimize lens removal and IOL placement. 

The laser, called a femtosecond laser, also assists in softening and breaking apart the lens. Traditional cataract surgery is done only with ultrasonic waves emitted by a small device. 

Using the femtosecond laser to soften the lens can make the process faster and easier. Laser cataract surgery is more precise and can lead to better outcomes, especially for patients with astigmatism. 

IOL placement needs to be exact with IOLs that correct astigmatism, so the precision of the LenSx system can be highly beneficial. But laser cataract surgery is an excellent option for anyone who needs cataract surgery. 

Like regular cataract surgery, it’s a simple and relatively quick outpatient procedure.

How It Works

When you have laser cataract surgery, you will have separate procedures for each eye. Recovery takes a couple of weeks, so you’ll have surgery on one eye and the other a couple of weeks later. 

The surgeon will first numb your eyes with eye drops when you go in for the procedure. Once your eyes are numb, your surgeon will use the LenSx system to make the primary incisions into the eye, through the cornea, and into the anterior capsule that wraps around your eye’s lens.

They will then use the laser to soften and break apart the lens before vacuuming it out of the small opening made by the incisions. Once your cataract surgeon removes the tiny lens pieces, they will insert the new IOL through the same incision opening and position it. 

After the IOL is in the correct position, the surgery is complete. The incisions are small enough to heal independently without stitches or sutures. 

Recovery after surgery generally takes only a few days, with nearly complete recovery after two weeks. In that time, you’ll be able to do most activities as normal, but you may need to refrain from strenuous activity like intense exercise or heavy lifting. 

You’ll also need to take prescription eye drops to help your eyes heal and avoid infection. 

Prior To Cataract Surgery

Before you have surgery, you’ll also need to choose an IOL. IOLs come in wide varieties, and some are considered premium. 

Premium IOLs may reduce or eliminate the need for reading glasses after cataract surgery. They cost a little extra, but many patients find the cost to be well worth the enhanced vision. 

Talk to your doctor about what kind of IOLs are available so you can make an informed decision before having laser cataract surgery. 

Do you want to learn more about laser cataract surgery? Schedule an appointment at Sugiki Portis Eye Center in Honolulu, HI, today!

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