A cataract is caused by an accumulation of proteins in the lens of the eye. The proteins make the lens cloudy and thus cause vision loss by blocking light. There are many possible causes of cataracts including birth defects, eye injury and certain diseases. Age is a very common cause, and over 50 percent of Americans who are 65 or above have cataracts.
How are cataracts treated?
In the early stages, cataracts may be treated with prescription lenses. The patient will wear glasses or contact lenses.
Eventually, though, the patient will probably need surgery. Cataract surgery is the most common surgery in the US with over 1.5 million surgeries being performed each year. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure in which the surgeon removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens.
How is laser-assisted cataract surgery done?
The laser used in laser-assisted cataract surgery is called a femtosecond laser. It is the same type of laser used in LASIK operations that are performed to correct such problems as near-sightedness or far-sightedness.
In the conventional cataract surgery, a doctor may use a variety of hand-held instruments to perform such tasks as making the incision in the patient’s cornea. In laser-assisted cataract surgery, a laser is used to do that.
During laser-assisted surgery, the doctor may also use the laser to remove the front portion of the capsule that surrounds and protects the lens. They use the laser instead of ultrasound to break up the defective lens. The surgeon can also correct any astigmatism the patient has at the same time they’re performing cataract surgery.
Benefits of laser-assisted surgery
As was mentioned, the doctor can correct astigmatism and the cataract at the same time. The laser also gives the surgeon greater precision and control and thus reduces the chances of mistakes or complications.
The laser is safer to use than ultrasound during the lens fragmentation and removal stages. Ultrasound generates heat which can build up in the incision and actually cause astigmatism. If the heat burns the incision, it might cause a leak that requires more stitches to close.
To find out more about cataract surgery, contact us today at Live Oak Ophthalmology.