The femtosecond laser technology which brought new levels of predictability, accuracy and safety to LASIK surgery is also advancing surgeries for cataracts. In general this is called laser cataract surgery although others call it refractive laser-assisted cataract surgery. In this procedure, an advanced femtosecond laser assists or replaces the use of a hand-held surgical tool for the corneal incision, anterior capsulotomy as well as lens and cataract fragmentation. A laser can enhance the accuracy, reproducibility and precision of each of these steps, possibly decreasing risks and improving the cataract surgery’s visual outcomes.
Conventional cataract surgery is frequently done and tends to be really effective and safe with predictable results. It depends upon the skill, experience and volume of the surgeon.
Cataract surgery starts with a corneal incision. In conventional cataract surgery, the surgeon will utilize a hand-held diamond or metal blade in order to make an incision in the area where the corne and sclera meet. Such incision enables the surgeon to access the eye’s interior in order to break up and remove the cataract. Then, the surgeon inserts and plants an intraocular lens (IOL) to replace the cloudy natural lens. The incision made in the cornea is done in a way to allow it to heal by itself after the completion of the surgery without needing stitches.
In laser cataract surgery, a precise surgical plan is created by the surgeon to create an incision in the cornea using a sophisticated 3D image of the eye named as optical coherence tomography (OCT). This is aimed at making an incision with an exact location, length and depth in all planes. With the femtosecond laser and OCT image, this can be done exactly without depending upon the surgeon’s experience. This is quite essential for accuracy and to increase the likelihood of self-healing for the incision.
The natural lens of the eye is surrounded by a very thin and clear capsule. In cataract surgery, the capsule’s front part is removed through anterior capsulotomy in order to access the cataract. The rest of the lens capsule which remains intact must not be damaged during the surgery since it should hold the artificial lens implant in place.
In conventional cataract surgery, an opening in the capsule is made using a small needle that will also be used for tearing the capsule in a circular motion. In laser cataract surgery, the capsulotomy is done using a femtosecond laser.