Cataract Technology and Research: What’s New?
Although cataract surgery has been around for many years, the last half-century has seen remarkable improvements in the procedure.
Since the intraocular lens was introduced in the 1940s, the designs, materials and implantation have evolved rapidly, making IOL a safe and practical way to restore normal vision at the time of surgery. In fact many people who have been dependent on glasses or contact lenses for years, find they can eliminate or reduce their use of glasses with the new technology IOLs. Learn more »
If you remember your parent’s cataract surgery, the memories probably aren’t very pleasant. The recent development of phacoemulsification surgery allows the cataract removal to be done through a tiny self-healing incision. Then high frequency ultrasound breaks up the cataract gently. Since this surgery is less invasive, patients heal quickly and are able to quickly resume their normal activities, with improved vision! Learn more »
LASER-Assisted Cataract Surgery
In 2011, the FDA approved use of a laser system for performing cataract surgery. Like any new technology, there are pros and cons for using laser-assisted cataract surgery:
LASER-Assisted Surgery: The Pros
Like fingerprints, no two eyes are identical. First, the laser measures your eye in three dimensions. Then your surgeon chooses the right settings for your eyes. Studies have shown the laser makes extremely precise cuts, down to the micron level. The laser cuts perfectly every time, reducing the risk of human error on key parts of the surgery like the anterior capsulorhexis. The laser also gently breaks apart your cataract, so it can be easily removed.
When the new lens is implanted, the precision of the initial incision helps ensure the new lens is placed exactly as planned. Precise placement allows the lens to give you the best vision possible. To treat astigmatism, the laser can also offer refractive surgery, which adjusts your eye’s focusing ability by reshaping the cornea, or clear, round dome at the front of your eye. If you are interested in learning more about laser-assisted cataract surgery, discuss your options with your ophthalmologist.
LASER-Assisted Surgery: The Cons
The primary role of the LASER is to make the initial incisions in the eye. An experienced cataract surgeon has done that literally thousands of times, and it is the most routine part of the surgery. The LASER does not remove the cataract or implant the lens. So the skill of the surgeon is critical, even for doctors that use a LASER for the incision.
While laser-assisted cataract surgery may sound “cool and leading edge”, the goal is to give you the very best vision post-surgery. Today, many doctors have not seen convincing proof that lasers offer any true advantage in giving patients the best vision. For this reason, they have chosen to stay with manual incisions until LASER surgery has a proven track record.
Researchers are gradually identifying factors that may cause cataracts and information that may help to prevent them. Improved knowledge of toxic chemicals, cataract-causing drugs and harmful radiation may enable physicians to reduce the incidence of cataracts. Antioxidant supplements have also shown success in delaying the progression of cataracts. Genetic studies show promise in helping us understand the underlying causes of cataract development. Learn more »