The latest technology in the world of eye surgery is “laser cataract surgery.” Although we use many different lasers to treat various eye conditions and diseases, lasers have not been used in cataract surgery until recently. These sophisticated femtosecond lasers represent a revolutionary advance that has been adopted by leading eye centers throughout the United States.
What Is Laser Cataract Surgery?
Laser cataract surgery is performed with a femtosecond laser. Specifically, the laser system takes the incisions needed to perform laser cataract surgery out of the surgeon’s hands, enabling critical parts of the surgery to be performed with incredible precision.
As with a fingerprint, every eye is unique. The femtosecond laser system allows us to customize the surgery for each patient by making a high resolution 3D study of the front part of the eye prior to the laser being used. This study is then matched to an image of the patient’s iris taken during the preoperative visit.
As a result:
- The incisions are tailored for each patient
- The lens fragmentation is programmed based on how hard the patient’s lens is
- Existing astigmatism can be treated with exquisite precision.
For years, the companies that have been developing these highly sophisticated systems have emphasized the incredible precision that can be achieved using the femtosecond lasers. The incisions made are perfect in design, providing an absolute seal and thereby reducing risk of infection. This enhances safety both during and after surgery.
The laser also performs the capsulotomy, or the opening into the surface of the cataract. It is through this opening that the cataract is removed. We know that a perfectly centered and perfectly round capsulotomy enables better placement and centering of the intraocular lens implant which allows for better visual outcomes.
The fact that the laser system can perform this in less than one second eliminates possible mishaps that might occur if the patient were to move during the procedure. This is a very real advantage. Although we can manually perform these openings, they are never perfectly round nor are they ever perfectly centered…and yes, sometimes patients move, cough or even sneeze during surgery.
Softening the Cataract
The laser is able to soften the dense cataract by dividing the lens into numerous very small squares. This not only softens the cataract but reduces the amount of phaco energy needed to remove it.
This may be the most significant advantage the femtosecond laser system offers.
Safety and Rapid Healing
Protecting the cornea is of paramount importance.
By pre-softening the very dense cataract, the laser system allows us to do cataract surgery with significantly reduced phaco energy. As a result, our patients have much clearer corneas on the very first postoperative day. This means the vision is much sharper immediately following surgery. It also means that there is less corneal edema, allowing the cornea to be better preserved and protected.
With today’s technology, many of us have become a little more familiar with the importance of pixels and how they relate to the clarity of the picture we see on our TV screens or computer monitors. The more pixels, the higher the resolution. In the same way, using the femtosecond laser helps to preserve “the pixels” by protecting the cells in the cornea. This in turn allows for the best visual outcome.
Dr. Charles Kelman, inventor of phacoemulsification, was always concerned about the impact of phaco energy on the delicate corneal cells. Laser cataract surgery addresses this very point and takes phacoemulsification into a new era in which we are now able to provide a safe and more rapid recovery of sight to each patient.
Femto + Phaco = THE PERFECT MATCH
Why Choose the CATALYS Laser?
After much careful research on each femtosecond laser system available, we chose the CATALYS Laser from Optimedica/AMO. Unlike other femtosecond lasers on the market, the CATALYS was the only system designed specifically for cataract surgery. With ongoing advances, it now enables us to achieve greater precision when correcting astigmatism. This, along with enhanced safety features, makes the CATALYS clearly the leader in the field of laser cataract surgery.