Twenty-five years ago, cataract surgery was a major operation which required several days of hospital recovery and full immobilization to allow the eye to heal. Today, cataract surgery is the most common procedure performed in the United States, with a greater than 95 percent success rate. Cataract removal is an outpatient procedure performed at ambulatory surgery centers around the country, and afterward, patients can generally resume many of their normal activities the following day.
Here are a few of the latest surgical techniques and innovative tools that have improved outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Customized intraocular lenses
Cataract surgery involves removing the deteriorated eye lens and replacing it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). You can choose from many options including monofocal, astigmatism-correcting or multifocal. New IOLs are introduced each year, and your surgeon will provide a recommendation after performing comprehensive tests.
Small incision cataract surgery and phacoemulsification
IOLs are specially engineered to be placed in small incisions, as tiny as 2 millimeters. Modern lens removal uses phacoemulsification, which incorporates ultrasound waves to break up the deteriorated lens. After the lens has been fragmented, it is vacuumed and the new IOL can be inserted into the same incision used for phacoemulsification. Most corneal incisions are so small that they do not even require sutures.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery
In traditional cataract surgery, a surgeon uses a metal or diamond blade to create the corneal incision. Laser-assisted cataract surgery uses a femtosecond laser to create a bladeless incision with unparalleled accuracy. The surgeon creates a surgical plan with a 3-D image of the eye called OCT (optical coherence tomography). With the specifications for location, depth and length in all planes, the femtosecond laser offers advantages of minimal invasiveness, customization and computer-guided control. This innovative procedure used for cataract removal has been successfully performed for the past few years (Source: Optometry Times).
With advancements in surgical techniques, instruments and guidance systems, we can expect to see continued improvement in patient outcomes and safety. Talk to your eye care specialist about the newest technologies in cataract removal.